An expansion to the existing Koerner Library, the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre on the UBC campus is a relatively small building with a big message. Owned and operated by UBC Property Trust, the two-storey Centre houses Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada records for former residential school students, their families and communities, and the public to view through interactive exhibit, research, and meeting spaces. With an eye-catching copper roof and floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over a revitalized, bowl-shaped plaza, the Centre makes an instant and lasting impression on passersby.
Openness and transparency were key design drivers, and are reinforced through the selection of natural materials as well as a push for clean interior spaces. Our mechanical design team worked collaboratively with the architect, ultimately designing a mechanical building system that complements the serene architectural intent. The final under slab heating system with electric boilers goes virtually undetected by visitors of the Centre, while the electric domestic hot water tank generates and circulates hot water to the system. A heat recovery indoor unit with motorized dampers delivers 100% outdoor air to the inside, aiding in breaking down the barriers between the interior and the exterior, and removing the feeling of confinement which is frequently described by survivors of residential schools. The Centre serves as a calming space for students and visitors to learn more about the history of Indian Residential Schools in Canada.