Exchange Residence and UBC Bus Exchange

Redefining transit-oriented development on a university campus


This unique transit-oriented project is the product of a long-term development collaboration between DIALOG, the University of British Columbia (UBC), and TransLink. UBC wanted to build more student beds and TransLink had a mandate to deliver a new bus exchange, but both were running into space constraints on campus. The team came up with an innovative solution to the problem: build up, rather than out. The result was a new 650-bed student residence built on a two-storey podium over much of the second-busiest TransLink bus exchange in the Lower Mainland, thereby maximizing the density and land use on this part of campus. DIALOG also provided LEED® consulting services on this project in which it has gained a LEED® Certification at the Gold Level.

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Vancouver, BC
297,000 sq ft
University of British Columbia / TransLink
LEED® Gold certification

AME Consulting Group
AES Engineering
BKL Consultants
Bunt & Associates
Core Group Consultants
Geopacific Consultants
Glotman Simpson Consulting Engineers
Heatherbrea Builders
Murray & Associates
Opus International Consultants Limited
PFS Studio

DIALOG Services

Interior Design
Landscape Architecture

The 12-storey main tower at Exchange Residence creates a gateway on this main route into campus. The building steps down to eight storeys to the west, and five to the south.

The four buildings of Exchange Residence are clearly visible from the air. It’s also possible to see the size and scope of the green space and landscaping on the adjacent podium.

The lobby at Exchange is an impressive and inviting space. A smooth transition from the lobby to the outdoor podium is achieved through unexposed high volumes and unimpeded views.

Just off the main lobby of Exchange is a lounge for residents to enjoy. It features a fireplace, booths, comfortable seating and even kitchen facilities – all the comforts of home.

The collegia are a home-away-from-home environment where first-year students who don’t live on campus could rest, eat, study, and even nap between classes.

The collegia have a residential feel in a double-height volume while maintaining daylighting and views into the second level. The kitchen space allows for meal prep.

The collegia are made homey through varied wood tones, fireplaces, cozy dens, residential-style furniture, and eclectic lighting.

Unique color blocking is an important wayfinding tool in the elevator lobbies. Special wood treatments are incorporated into the lobbies to connect them visually to other parts of the building.

The nano suites contain all of the essential elements for student living, including a Murphy bed specially designed by the DIALOG Interior Design team that folds down into a desk.

There are 71 nano suites in Exchange Residence, and all reports to date about these spaces has been exceedingly positive. Students are loving their compact living spaces.

Each of the nano suites has its own bathroom tucked away in the corner. A translucent partition, rather than solid wall, ensures that light enters the space.

Nano suites have their own small kitchen spaces, providing complete independent living for students.

Multi-person dorm room spaces at Exchange Residence are designed to be simple and functional for two to four residents. Living rooms are large enough for entertaining and studying.

The podium beside Exchange Residence serves as a green space for residents, as well as an ingeneous physical barrier between the buildings and the bus layover area below.

The Landscape Architecture team added a deck with shade trees to the podium. This aerial perspective also shows plantings on the podium.

The massive 43,000 sq ft podium features a large turf area, a deck with shade trees and a long line of aspens that flutter in the wind and bring a sense of movement to the space.

The Landscape team sought to bring a sense of movement to the podium, and were able to achieve this with a long line of aspens beside the building that flutter in the wind.

There are staircases on the south and west ends of the podium for residents to access the podium and residence buildings. The bus layover is visible to the left of the staircase.

There are 15 ground-level townhouses built into Exchange Residence. These two-bedroom units are designed for small families or couples who want to live on campus but not in a dorm.

The idea of building the residences above the bus layover allowed the design team to deliver both much-needed beds and infrastructure on the same piece of campus real estate.

The street wall facades of Exchange Residence were inspired by European cities. It creates a striking visage for the building, making it appear more residential than institutional.

The three buildings that make up the north-south leg of Exchange Residence, along with the grand staircase, illustrate the stepped concept the design team sought to achieve.

There is only one pedestrian crosswalk in the new UBC Bus Exchange. This increases pedestrian safety and helps improve the flow of bus traffic through the site.

The new bus exchange features an all-new drivers’ facility that is similar in design to the Exchange Residence building it sits beside. Wood plays a prominent role in the design.

The bus exchange features covered platforms that are more like subway stations than traditional bus stops. Catenary lighting illuminates the exchange, rather than lampposts.

The Team

This is a stunning facility, and an architectural and engineering marvel… It is a true home for our beloved students.

Santa Ono, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of British Columbia
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