The site is positioned in the middle of three major zones at the intersection of University Blvd and Wesbrook Mall: (1) Area D, (2) Area A, (3) UBC -Point Grey Campus. By nature of the site, the project will serve as an important gateway between the UEL and UBC.
Various site analysis were conducted to better understand the project's surrounding conditions and their implications. In-house studies of nearby community amenities have reinforced that Area D is the only area within the UEL with a commercial area and multi-family residential buildings. The layout of Menno Hall is key to mitigating this relationship and one of our primary goals is connection to the various areas through the site.
This will be accomplished through:
- Not building right out to the corner so there is some flow through the property.
- Keeping the footprint as small as possible.
- Sensitivity in terms of massing.
- Having some design elements that are considerate of the single-family neighbourhood behind.
- Having an integrated and holistic project from the perspective of the street.
The development is scaled back to allow extra setbacks and sensitive height transition. The setbacks around the entire perimeter of Menno Hall will allow for proper landscape design and greenery, maximize the distance to single family houses, as well as accommodate and protect the critical root zones for the existing trees along the bridle path.
The institutional program areas are located below grade for scale considerations and to reduce building height. With the additional setbacks on the north and east side and this displacement, a second level of parking was required, incurring additional construction cost to the development.
Landscape design considerations will enhance the peace and quiet of the adjacent residential neighbourhood. Additional building setbacks are provided from the north and east property line to respect the immediate single family houses. This breathing space coupled with landscaping and trees provides a proper buffer and ensures the privacy and quiet of these homes is maintained. Additionally, a water feature in the internal court space of Menno Hall will provide white noise.
Our vision is to create a seamless interface between the public sphere and Menno Hall by lifting the entire building and minimizing the ground floor footprint. This will create space for beautifully landscaped gathering areas and covered walkways offering comfortable public routes for community users who will move through the site on their way to different parts of the neighbourhood.
We believe that caring for the environment is synonymous with being a good steward. To that end, we’ve taken great care to protect the existing mature trees along the bridle path on Western Parkway which play an important role in the surrounding neighbourhood's character.
Tree Protection Strategies:
- Trees along the bridle-path adjacent to the residential neighbourhood will be saved.
- A building setback will limit excavation in the root zone of the trees along the east (Western Parkway) perimeter.
- The existing condition of protected trees on and adjacent to the property were examined to establish guidelines for protecting retained trees during the construction process.
- If any excavation around a tree is necessary, it will be minor and will be conducted by hand or with an air spade under the supervision of an arborist.
Menno Hall’s environmentally sensitive landscaping spans multiple floors. Every aspect of the landscaping is strategically designed to enhance every interaction individuals have with the site and bring a sense of natural serenity to the surrounding area.
The Grotto Atrium - A recessed landscape spills into the interior of the site through a grotto themed garden and water feature. This space will serve as both a quiet sanctuary and a striking multi-sensory amenity that animates the public realm.
Welcome Plaza & Aspen Knoll - This will be a feature planting area showcasing indigenous plants, central to the worldview of the original inhabitants of the land. A combination of feature benches and moveable seating will serve as places for connection and the welcoming landscape will focus activity inwards to the green heart of the site’s open courtyard.
Green Roof - The green roof of Menno Hall will manage the quantity and quality of the rainwater being released into the municipal stormwater system and feed the central sunken lagoon, located in “The Grotto”.
Privacy Buffer - landscaping with hedges, tree rows, screening, and fencing will provide a proper buffer and ensure the privacy and quiet of residential areas around Menno Hall are maintained.
Plant Communities - The existing mature London Plane trees will be complimented by a native planting strategy offering a vertically layered canopy cover that will blend the edge of Menno Hall with the surrounding neighbourhood and support diverse bird communities.
The entire Menno Hall building will be lifted off the ground floor in order to maximize the amount of available space that can be given over to the public realm with a landscape strategy that paves the way for a mix of public and private uses. To compliment this strategy, specific academic building components will be sensitive to the publicly accessible environment and will be limited.
Spacious covered walkways will run through the site offering public routes for community users who will move through the site on their way to different parts of the neighbourhood.
Menno Hall will improve access to affordable housing for individuals who are studying and working at UBC or within the UEL.
11,000 square feet of Menno Hall is dedicated to art, music, learning, theatre, and expressions of faith. Programs and events such as concerts, lectures, and courses will be open for public attendance and the facility will be available for rent.
The Welcome Plaza will also support and provide space where tents and tables could be set up for social events such as craft markets or pop-up produce stands.
The entire Menno Hall building will be designed to be universally accessible. Site accessibility for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users will be supported by on-site walking permeability, wide sidewalks, and significant short-term bicycle parking.
Menno Hall's parking plan reflects the changing mobility habits in Metro Vancouver providing more accessibility for bicycle parking, prime accessibility to rapid transit and anticipating a reduced requirement for the single family car.
Menno Hall is expected to generate approximately 16 to 24 vehicle trips (two-way) during the Weekday A.M. and P.M. peak hours. Spread over the peak hour, this is equivalent to one vehicle every 2-4 minutes. This traffic will be diverted away from the Area A neighbourhood through a right-in/right-out parkade driveway that will be accessed on Wesbrook Mall.
It is of the utmost importance that the environment Menno Hall fosters is safe and respectful. Exterior development of the site will be informed by CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design). The design objectives will emphasize clarity, natural surveillance, and access control.
Maximum transparency of the ground floor lobbies and common spaces facing the internal courtyard as well as the public realm provides passive surveillance opportunities and allows a more vibrant and human-focused site perimeter. These areas and entrances to the building will be well lit by landscape and soffit lighting and have strong connectivity with the adjacent streets on all three sides. Opportunities for graffiti and skateboarding will be limited by using durable materials at ground level and treating surfaces with anti-graffiti coating where applicable.