Menno Hall is a mixed-use gateway development within the University Endowment Lands (UEL), adjacent to the University of British Columbia Vancouver campus. Located at the intersection of University Boulevard and Wesbrook Mall, the four to six-storey, 11,000 square meter project comprises 86 units of rental housing, 105 units of student housing and below-ground level institutional space over top of underground parking. The project site area is 3,899 m², and the proposed project floor space ratio (FSR) is 2.52 to provide rental housing catering to the “missing middle” rental housing market.
The project showcases mass timber construction + ambitious energy reduction targets and will exceed current sustainability benchmarking requirements. The interior of the site comprises a landscaped courtyard providing stormwater management coupled with an attractive greened open-air extension to the public realm.
Response to the Neighbourhood – Density + Intersection with the Surrounding Site
The ‘Gateway’ location of the development and its proximity to the surrounding single-family neighbourhoods, informed the massing of the building and the decision to move a portion of the developable area underground. Advantage is made of the street-level energy generated by the movement of pedestrian traffic at this key urban intersection; the public realm flows underneath the housing in an outdoor weather-protected pedestrian quadrangle. A student-run café at ground-level adds to the social energy at the street corner. The building massing transitions from six-storeys at the street intersection to four-storeys adjacent to neighbouring single family properties. The footprint of the building was shifted several meters to preserve a series of mature London Plane trees which act as a visual buffer to the single-family homes to the east of the site.
Housing Mix – the “Missing Middle”
The project provides badly-needed rental housing options for families and students working and studying at the University of British Columbia. In 2019, the vacancy rate in the UBC Point Grey area was estimated at 0.3% – 0.8%, and the majority of families in Metro Vancouver are estimated to not be earning the necessary income for home ownership. Menno Hall will provide affordable rental housing opportunities for these families. Approximately 52% of the total units are dedicated to student housing; the remaining units are designed in a variety of types and sizes from Studio to 3-Bedroom to provide rental housing for missing middle families and individuals with moderate income.
“The Grotto” – Sustainability and Public Realm Integration
Environmental stewardship was a core design driver through the design of the project. Green roofs, exposed cross-laminated-timber structure, and stormwater retention and management in an attractive subterranean “Grotto” give residents and visitors to Menno Hall a visual, tactile and auditory connection to sustainable living. The journey to the Student Dining, Living and Lecture Hall is via a bridge over the “Grotto” – allowing views of the open-air courtyard. Menno Hall weaves sustainability into the daily life of the physical and social space of the building by carefully addressing solar orientation, urban context and the unique co-existence of rental housing, student housing and academic/institutional mixed-use.