Housing Union Building (HUB) — 1969-1971

Housing Union Building, James Dow

Housing Union Building, James Dow

112 Street, 88 Avenue to Saskatchewan Drive

Designed by Diamond and Myers Architects with R.L. Wilkin Architect
Built by: Poole Construction
Original Owner: University of Alberta Students Union

The Housing Union Building (HUB) was an innovative experiment in student housing, combining function and circulation in a new way. The building was designed as a weather-enclosed link to other campus buildings, and as the acronym suggests, was intended to be a central focus on campus for students, staff and the public alike. The design reflected the new democratic reforms that developed from the turbulent 1960s when student unrest pervaded academia around the world. HUB was designed as a very ‘democratic’ building, echoing Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute in La Jolla, California. This is not surprising considering both lead architects had been Kahn’s students.

HUB, Edmonton Archives EA-340-594

HUB, Edmonton Archives EA-340-594

The building form represents a truly modern approach to planning and design with no visual ties to the past. Dozens of minor entrances were incorporated along the length of the building allowing entry from a myriad of unrestricted locations – as there were no locks on the doors leading up to the elevated mall. The mall comes as close to a public street as any enclosed space on campus, creating an unprecented accessible, environmentally-controlled public space. HUB was a social experiment and an icon of modern architecture in Alberta

The unrelenting rhythm of aluminum framed windows, glazed stair towers and the raw pre-cast concrete cladding of the exterior is really an experiment in form-following-function, where the building emerges directly from the interior planning of the project.

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