UBCO Construction Challenges

UBCO Construction Challenges

Jack B - Jan 30, 2024

The development of the University of British Columbia Okanagan's (UBCO) new downtown campus in Kelowna, a towering 43-story building, has been marred by significant structural challenges impacting nearby buildings. This complex situation has necessitated a pause and reevaluation of construction methodologies.

Damage to neighboring buildings due to the extensive excavation required for the campus has been more severe than anticipated. The affected buildings are the Legion Hall on Bertram Street, the Okanagan coLab at the corner of St. Paul and Doyle (the future construction site of the One Varsity) and the School District 23 (land is owned by UBC Properties Trust). Additionally, Pathways' Hadgraft Wilson Place, adjacent to the site, has also suffered damage. This situation has led to closures and evacuations, significantly impacting the local community and businesses.

In response to these developments, UBCO is taking a cautious approach, slowing down the construction process to evaluate the site, particularly the east elevation below the Pathways building. The university, in collaboration with the city and consultants, is actively working to investigate the reports and determine the best path forward. This includes adapting construction techniques and resequencing work to prevent further offsite property and infrastructure impacts.

City risk manager Lance Kayfish has emphasized that the primary objective is to prevent further damage. Measures are being taken to ensure the safety and stability of the surrounding buildings, including ongoing monitoring by multiple city departments and consultants. Kayfish also noted that an independent geotechnical review has confirmed no new settlement in the area over the past two weeks and that the Hadgraft Wilson Place building is safe to occupy.

The university's proactive stance in documenting and sharing its learnings from the excavation process is a significant step towards contributing to the broader development community, especially for those building in the downtown area. This knowledge exchange aims to help mitigate similar issues in future developments.

This situation underscores the complexities of Kelowna's urban development, particularly in densely populated areas. The balance between advancing development and preserving the integrity of existing structures is a critical concern as Kelowna continues to grow and evolve. The ongoing development of UBCO's downtown campus will be a key story to follow as the university and city navigate these challenges and work towards a resolution.

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UBCO Downtown mixed-use Development

550 Doyle Ave, Kelowna, BC

Under Construction 🏗️ 2027

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