UBC Okanagan education leadership instructor Tamara Freeman in the 400-seat hi-tech classroom in the new Commons building on the university’s Kelowna campus. —Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News

UBC Okanagan opens new high-tech learning and teaching building

The $35 million Commons building has a huge 400-seat classroom and other study space

Students at University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Okanagan campus will be well prepared for a high-tech world studying in The Commons, a new multipurpose facility outfitted with modern classrooms, technology labs and collaborative study areas.

“The new Commons building will help students and researchers thrive and succeed. UBC students are our future leaders in many areas such as tech, science and engineering, and they’re helping us build the best B.C.,” said Melanie Mark, B.C.’s Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “By investing in bright, modern facilities, students at UBC’s Okanagan campus now have the space they need that will help prepare them to be industry ready for in-demand 21st-century careers.”

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The $35-million building has a high-tech 400-seat classroom, informal collaborative learning study areas, a digital technology centre and a graduate student commons. It also includes a visualization lab to facilitate high-resolution data modelling in research fields, such as advanced manufacturing, materials science and health and data science.

The classroom will be the largest on campus and enhance access to high-demand courses while supporting active learning. Accessibility was a key design element, with 20% of seating – roughly 90 locations – accessible to students using wheelchairs.

UBC Okanagan students played a special part in funding the new building, agreeing to a small annual levy, which contributed $9.8 million towards the construction costs of the centre.

“Modern learning spaces are key to helping students develop the skills they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” said Navdeep Bains, Federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. “Our government’s investment in The Commons building will support our world-class scientists, engineers and technicians while laying down the groundwork for innovation and cutting-edge research.”

The Commons and campus sustainability upgrades were funded with $15.97 million from the Government of Canada’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund (SIF), $11.33 million from the Province of British Columbia, and $13.47 million from UBC.

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The large two-tier study hall in the The Commons,, named after Kelowna businessman and former Canadian Senator Ross Fitzpatrick. —Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News

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