Busby Perkins+Will Architects

According to the Facebook page of Busby Perkins+Will (BP+W), they were “Established in 1984 by Peter Busby in Vancouver, British Columbia, Busby Perkins+Will is an integrated architecture, interiors, and planning firm recognized for its leadership with clients in Corporate + Commercial + Civic, Healthcare, Higher Education, K-12 Education and Science + Technology. The firm is committed to sustainability and green building design, creating modern, functional, and flexible spaces, utilizing the latest, most efficient technology to meet our clients ever-changing needs and desires”

Busby Perkins + Will worked on the new Buchanan Buildings. Yay Arts!

Busby Perkins + Will worked on the new Buchanan Buildings. Yay Arts!

Social Media


BPW have the standard Facebook page and Twitter account. While neither has managed to reach out to students in any significant way, it is the effort that counts in this case. If called upon, both types of media can be deployed in order to reach out to students.


Their presentation focused more on the end result, with a strong emphasis on listening. There was a lot of discussion about past projects. I was impressed with the sheer number of student union buildings they’ve built (around 40 or so). They identified three factors that are so important to making a student union building great: The right location, the right programming and the right architect. I really liked that they identified this; BP+W feel that we have an amazing location and a great program. All we need is a fantastic architect to round it out. The thing that stood out for me is that they pay attention to the harmonization of human and nature. They’ve done some buildings where critters are able to run around and live on the roof! They are socially and environmentally responsible and they believe that this building, amongst other things, should be a symbol of an institution and a home for the individual. That is something that our current building struggles with and something we hope to fix in our new building

Cute squirrels on the roof of the new SUB anyone?

Cute squirrels on the roof of the new SUB anyone?


I think BP+W had the right idea when they came to campus to speak to students and get feedback on what they are looking for in a new Student Union Building. The video that was shown was thoughtful and it was nice to see that they were willing to get right down to it and speak to students. There was also a lot of focus on a student focused design process. BP+W believe that the design of the SUB starts with us and they want to hear what we have to say from the get go. They like to do regularly scheduled workshop that will allow the architect to solicit feedback in a smaller group made up of different user groups like undergraduate, grad, and food services representatives. They also like open houses, online tools (Facebook, Twitter, a project blog where updated drawings will be posted for comments)

The Team

BP+W didn’t bring a whole lot of people. One person who did stand out was Jeff Stebar. He has a lot of experience with SUBs. He knew what he was talking about it and it was exciting to see the amount of expertise he had.


The presentation felt a little rushed. There was a lot of information in a very short amount of time. While I appreciate the reasoning behind bringing along a more concentrated team, there doesn’t seem to be any one person who will be dedicated to the students throughout the process. While I don’t think that this means they aren’t going to try and have meaningful student involvement throughout the process but it is going to be such an important component of this building. I felt like there was an unrealistic view of the levels of student involvement on this campus, its going to be even harder for them to engage students if there isn’t anyone who is dedicated to it. This is a huge project with a lot of intricacies; I think I would have been more comfortable with BP+W if more of the team was present at the presentation. BP+W also didn’t speak as much about art integration as I would have liked to see.


I really liked the videos; they were such a great touch. It switched up the presentation and gave the audience a chance to listen to the thoughts of the users of the buildings that they have designed. Being able to see how the users feel about the building after they’ve been able to use it shows that BP+W know what they are talking about. I was also really impressed with how much focus they put into showing that they understand that its all about the tomorrow. They understand that we’re building a building for the future. They seem to get what we’re trying to achieve here and seem to have a good level of understanding of what is going on in our project. I think my favourite quote was that the students of tomorrow are techno (technology) natives. Jeff Stebar is a self-proclaimed techno immigrant.


5 Comments so far

  1. Jeff Stebar on April 8, 2010 7:16 pm

    Hi Crystal,

    Thank you and everyone involved with the AMS and at UBC for inviting Busby Perkins+Will to present in the SUB yesterday. Jana, Peter, and I all had a blast!

    All the best,
    Jeff “Techno-immigrant” Stebar

  2. Jana Foit on April 9, 2010 8:04 am

    Hi Crystal,

    What a great summary of the presentation! It was exciting to see such a great turnout of students, and see so much excitement on campus about this project. Best of luck to all the students in making this difficult decision!


  3. B-Sull on April 10, 2010 3:03 pm


    Thanks for this summary. The headings you are using really work for me.

  4. Edwin on April 11, 2010 8:34 pm

    I must say that BP+W was my favorite before hearing any of the other firms. However, seeing all the firms gave an amazing opportunity to compare their strengths and weaknesses.

    I felt that this firm had a clear advantage in terms of environmental design that wasn’t fully communicated. They could afford to brag, but they came across as overly modest to me. I mean, they have been pushing sustainable design for sooo long, and have clear expertise that could have substantiated their presentation through concrete examples.

    They are definitely still in my top three, but I want to see the videos for the presentations I could not attend before I cast my vote.

  5. Reality on June 30, 2010 10:59 am

    Perhaps a better way for the students to expand thier knowledge of the project and the supposed desire for a hand holder throughout would to see how much actual WORK (yes I know, a foreign term to most who haven’t yet left the academic world) is involved in the entire process before making unrealistic criticisms.

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