Street view of a glass building with vertical coloured rectangles scattered along the windows.

UBC Ponderosa Commons


Vancouver, BC

A 24/7 hub of activity, Ponderosa Commons is a major mixed-use student housing complex that has brought new vibrancy to the University of British Columbia with its full range of uses: study, work, live, and play.

On opening in 2016, Ponderosa re-animated the heart of the Point Grey campus and has fostered a strong sense of place for thousands of students ever since.

This project is a joint venture between KPMB Architects and hcma.

Girl walking down a bright yellow, geometric staircase
Students in a cafe getting lunch
Two people studying at a table with a turquoise window behind them.

Four academic years in, our students are still loving the facilities, and as staff and faculty we find new possibilities for utilizing the spaces as cohorts and programs evolve. Our visual arts program is booming, thanks in part to the potential of this facility.

Andrea Tuele, Administrator, Faculty of Arts, University of British Columbia

Person walking past the windows with coloured rectangles across them.
An animated campus

UBC Properties Trust recognizes that student housing on campus is more than an opportunity to attract and recruit students. It's also an important venue for student engagement and community building.

The Trust sought to create a more vibrant, diverse campus with the introduction of Ponderosa Commons, the first of eight planned high-density, mixed-use hubs situated within UBC's academic campus core. Their concept was to integrate student housing with other social infrastructure in order to create vibrant centres that would improve students' experience, and address issues of isolation and anonymity.

Underneath a yellow staircase
Community-building on campus

With Ponderosa Commons, a new level of animation and vibrancy has come to life in this area of campus, exceeding everyone’s expectations for its impact on social sustainability.

Students walk through the lobby of the Art History and Visual Arts School (AVHA) to get to their suites. The Mercante Pizzeria Cafe opens directly to outdoor terrace seating and an informal learning lounge. A yoga class takes place next to a student residential lobby. Geological studies occur just down the hall from Collegium, a VIP lounge space where residents and commuter students can intermingle and socialize.

The Commons also supports UBC’s ‘living laboratory’ commitment with innovative designs that have achieved energy efficiency with LEED Gold certification.

Rectangular building with a lot of colourful windows in front of a tall building with dark and light windows.
People studying at a table in front of a seating area.

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