Cannon Design

According to their website, “For nearly two decades, Cannon Design has been nurturing a culture where imagination, invention and creative talent flourish. As a premier, world ranked firm by most any standard in all of our primary markets, we recognize that our continued success relies on more than just what we have done before; it relies on what we do next. Today, our portfolio reflects enormous experience and expertise. Our enduring client relationships reflect our commitment to principles of collaboration and partnership. Our record for effective project delivery reflects our serious discipline in the balance of time, cost and quality. All these things are vital dimensions of our practice; all are the basis of the trust we seek to engender with our clients – trust which, in turn, fuels the kind of strategic optimism and courage that permit the exploration of new possibilities.”

Richmond Olympic Oval

Richmond Olympic Oval

Social Media


Like the other firms, Cannon has tapped into social media, like Facebook, in order to drum up excitement for their bid for the new SUB project Out of all the firms, they do have the most followers on their Twitter which leads me to think that they’ve been reaching out and are comfortable with social media. With social media being one of the most economical and efficient ways to reach out to students, it will be important to have an architect who can manipulate social media.


Cannon has an advantage over all the other architects because they created our program (feasibility study). This is a significant advantage because our program is complicated and intricate parts of our program might have to stay in the current SUB. Having been the firm that created the program feasibility study, Cannon will be significantly more familiar with the program building, making them the most effective at translating our program into a building. They stressed their take on open design during their presentation. This is great because that is what we want; an architect who is going to be completely open to our ideas. They also tuned into the idea that it is really about what the present students wants to say to give to the future students. This will be a difficult issue to mitigate and Cannon has identified it as important.

Consultation and Communication

Cannon plans on using the true and tried methods of communicating with students and communicating the importance of this project. They’ve identified campus tradition as something that needs to be communicated and seen in the new building, something that I’m sure will be communicated to students. This will be important for students to understand and hopefully will attract more students to the project.

The Team

The team Cannon has proposed seems carefully and specifically chosen. The video that was shown at the beginning of the presentation really showed the range and the expertise that this firm possess. I think they have a great grasp on the project and also what the students are looking for from this project.


I don’t know if Cannon will be able to inspire and motivate students into participating in the design process. I would have liked to seen more ideas/a vision on how they are going to do our project. They also mentioned something about how our building will have an economic component. They believe that a good design will mean a higher cash flow that will equal better programs. I don’t really see how that fits into the design process of this project; it seemed a little disconnected to me.


I think the major advantage Cannon Design has is the fact that they wrote the programs helped the AMS make the original decision to start the process of building a new building. It means that they will have the ability to hit the ground running faster. With that being said, this isn’t something that the other firms can’t overcome. I can’t get over the fact that I wasn’t necessarily inspired or excited about our project after their presentation. This is a big issue for me because this project needs architects that are going to be as excited, if not more, than students. They will also need to do so much more work to gather consultation on the project from students. Frankly, I don’t know if Cannon seems up for it.


4 Comments so far

  1. David Wilkinson on April 11, 2010 11:17 pm

    Hey, Crystal
    Thanks for doing these postings, which are a big help to those who couldn’t see the presentations. I sorry that you think we might not be as excited about the NewSUB as you…. we are insanely excited about it, since we’ve been dreaming about it for so many years!



  2. Jeff Friedrich on April 12, 2010 5:37 am

    Hi Crystal, listening architects, and other members of the current and past student community,

    Sorry to stick my nose in this, but I’m a little anxious that we are not going to meet our sustainability objectives for SUB. I also haven’t gotten a good sense from these summaries of what differentiates the firms in terms of their approach to greening the project.

    This project has a large budget and I would suspect that it can afford to become energy self-sufficient/create more energy than it uses. This might not be a technically accurate/realistic analogy, but if you gave me the choice between a project that was smaller but did not compromise its sustainability performance, otoh, and a project that had more programming space but sacrificed sustainability aspirations on otoh- i think students should be choosing sustainability over programming, and if that’s controversial, i think 2 options should go to referendum and that students should have a direct input into that choice.

    Most of these firms are fine and have done work at UBC before. UBC has relatively progressive (compared to real municipalities) mandates for LEED certifications. It’s not surprising then, that they all have experience working with LEED projects. Instead of resumes and “we’ll listen to students,” I’d like to hear them sell bolder sustainability visions and explain why they feel students should demonstrate leadership in this area. I’ve only seen the summaries posted here, so perhaps its a little unfair, but I feel like our aspirations are getting a little vanilla. A regular project won’t do anything unique to engage student interest and will likley be seen as irresponsible in 10 years time/whenever we have more ability to model climate sensitivity.

    From a visioning perspective, there’s no reason why this project couldn’t do more to mitigate its impact on the surrounding environment then the CIRS project (a Busby project, its worth noting), which asserts itself as North America’s greenest building. That project had a hard time getting off the ground and had to change sites- all for lack of money. This project has plenty of money, it just needs the right student vision and choices to guide it.

    Rather than feel we are doing our jobs by choosing a firm that has an inventory of past LEED projects, students should ask what leadership this building takes, and why certain carbon costs are justified. Take a zero budgeting approach- make the firms justify every ton of emissions from the start of the project on. Make sure we’re doing a full life cycle analysis- make sure the firms are accountable to an audit of the buildings energy performance 5, 10 years out. Include the demolition/new use of our old building in our analysis. See if you can make them accountable to building performance in the contract language. Keep asking the firms questions until they actually differeniate.

    SUB will be built, or under construction, in 2014, which happens to be the release date of the next IPCC report. Within the the life span of this building (in the next 50 years), we will live in a world that does not allow emissions of co2. Make real choices here.

    Could we please use this space to start that conversation?

    Thanks for reading my rant. I hope people tell me why I’m wrong.

    Jeff Friedrich
    former AMS President and hack

  3. Mike on April 12, 2010 11:03 am

    I agree with Jeff. The ecological/environmental ambitions of this project should be ground breaking. This should be the basis of a student vision.

    And the selection of an architect becomes a little easier – some architects are a lot more genuine in their approach to environmental concerns. It doesn’t take too much to figure out who they are. Who walks the walk here?

    I was surprised to see that most of the architecture teams are teamed up with huge national and some even multi-national architecture companies (IBI,Stantec,H+B,Perkins+Will,Cannon). Maybe thats not as big an issue but the more local guys might be more sensitive to what is actually going on at UBC and you can be assured that the design won’t be farmed out to Toronto or Europe or something and therefore out of the students hands. Thats my 2-cents.

  4. Martin on April 14, 2010 8:21 pm

    All the firms showed a portfolio of interesting (but not amazing) buildings. It’s too bad we have to eliminate 4 of them based on who did the best lip service to sustainability and student involvement, which is already a tough call seeing they all sound the same so far. People who voted on the basis of this little fantasy of “having a say” will be disappointed with either:

    a) being lied to, or
    b) reality, which entails the nasty politiking between stakeholders and usergroup mouthpieces that typically strangle the “collobrative” process.

    Much more meaningful rather, to vote on ACTUAL designs that clearly demonstrates a unique, exciting, well-defined and more tangible vision than just “uh, we’ll listen to the students”

    This odd mention of “cash flow” makes it seem like Cannon Design is positioning themselves to be the lowest bid, which is not surprising since the whole thing may very well come down to on-time-on-budget for a lot of people. Bleh.

    Can’t stress Jeff’s point enough:
    “Keep asking the firms questions until they actually differeniate.”

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