University of British Columbia – AMS Student Nest

  • area / size 251,050 sqft
  • Completed 2015
  • Location Vancouver, Canada,
  • B+H Architects and DIALOG collaborated to make an all-encompassing space for students that at the University of British Columbia called the AMS Student Nest in Vancouver, Canada.

    The University of British Columbia’s Student Nest embodies the very essence of collaborative design. Lively and inviting, the Nest’s form and spaces are the creative expression of a social and inclusive design approach inspired by the intrinsic need for human connection. Providing services and amenities for students from 150 different countries, The Nest is ‘a city’ within itself. It is a focal point of interaction, engagement, and enlightenment. It is a welcoming oasis of comfort, a living room, and market place for ideas and unified learning in the heart of UBC.

    The Nest is ‘a city’ within itself; a focal point of human interaction, engagement, and enlightenment that belongs to everyone. The mission of the University of British Columbia’s student body, the Alma Mater Society (AMS), is “To improve the quality of the educational, social, and personal lives of the students.” This guiding principle permeates every aspect of UBC’s Student Nest. Providing services and amenities for students from 150 different countries, The Nest provides a welcoming oasis of comfort, a living room, a market place of ideas and unified learning within the heart of UBC.

    In the true spirit of inclusion and engagement, The AMS launched an unprecedented architectural selection process leveraging the omnipresent power of social media. The entire student body was invited to select their preferred design team from video presentations posted on YouTube.

    The six-month design process included 20 public charrettes and workshops in collaboration with the student body. An on-site, fully transparent satellite office – the Design Cube – established in the old Student Union Building (SUB) provided the means for students, faculty, and the UBC community to engage the design team during the design process as The Nest transformed from concept to reality.

    Set on a long, narrow plot and spread over five stories to accommodate its complex program, the UBC Student Nest’s architecture is inspired by place and purpose. The central sky-lit atrium known as the Agora showcases a central floating datum called “The Nest.” Adjacent floor-to-ceiling windows flood the Agora with incandescence and look out across the Knoll – a historically significant gathering space on campus. Tactical vibrations of wood against steel spark a structural conversation of warmth and strength echoing the co-mingled voices of UBC’s student body.

    The Nest’s design details embrace their context. The northern zinc-cowl roof reflects the SUB’s existing sloped copper roof, while the southerly Great Hall mirrors the form of the War Memorial in the Gymnasium. The central Agora is in dialogue with the grassy Knoll – knitting together the components of university Square, University Boulevard, and the Bus Terminal.

    The Nest’s form is the creative expression of an inclusive effort that allowed every student to have a voice. This project is the collective manifestation of the student body’s ideals of empowerment, advocacy, accessibility, diversity, sustainability, and community.

    ArchitectB+H Architects and DIALOG
    Photography: Ema Peters