UBC Ponderosa Commons

  • Location

    Vancouver, BC

Ponderosa Commons supports a vibrant, diverse university campus through a full range of uses: study, work, live and play. This major mixed-use student housing complex creates a 24/7 hub of activity, animates the campus core and fosters a sense of place to enhance the overall campus experience.

This project is a joint venture between KPMB Architects and HCMA Architecture + Design.

Community Impact

Design Challenge

UBC Properties Trust sought to support a vibrant, diverse campus with Ponderosa Commons, the first of eight planned high-density, mixed-use hubs placed within the academic campus core. The concept integrates student housing with other social infrastructure to create vibrant centres that animate the campus and provide a sense of place.

The Commons also supports UBC’s ‘living laboratory’ commitment with innovative designs to achieve energy efficiency with a target of LEED Gold certification.


UBC Properties Trust recognizes that student housing on campus is more than an opportunity to attract and recruit students, but also as a venue for student engagement and community experience. The goal was to improve the academic community’s experience on this large campus, and to address issues of isolation, anonymity, and a lack of collegiality and vitality.


Design Response

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 to an informal learning lounge. There is a yoga class happening next to a student residential lobby. Geological studies on riverbed erosion expose large 40 meter water tanks just down the hall from where residents migrate and mix with other commuter students at the Collegium, a VIP lounge space designed to serve everyday student interactions and campus activity planning. Ponderosa Commons’ delivers 24/7 activity and increases social connections between faculty, students and others.

  • Completion

    Phase 1 - 2013
    Phase 2 - 2015

  • Size

    54,000 m2

  • Delivery Method

    Construction Management

Frankly I love everything about living in Ponderosa, from its close proximity to all my classes to the smell of Mercante’s cuisine every time I step into Maple House to the Audain Art Gallery, which inspires me every time I visit.

Paris Mina-Pour, student