University of Alberta Students’ Union Building (SUB) — 1967
8900 – 114 Street NW
Designed by: Richards Berretti and Jelinek Architects and Engineers
In 1962 the University of Alberta‘s student body voted in a referendum to provide funding for a new student union building, agreeing to pay a fee of $11/term per student for the new facility. This funding, along with the support of the Province of Alberta and the University, enabled the project to break ground in 1965 and open in 1967. The Students Union Building (SUB) was the largest such building in Canada at the time of its completion. It contained cultural and recreational facilities for student use in addtion to the student council chambers, a bookstore, extensive food services and 750 seat performance theatre. The building combines the International Style influences of Mies van der Rohe (tower) with Corbusian traits on the lower two floors (pre-cast clad concrete podium). Originally the main floor was composed of a series of concrete columns extending from the exterior to the interior through the fully-glazed recessed exterior wall. The outermost columns act as a colonnade and support the pre-cast concrete panel cladding of the second floor volume.
The cast aluminum mural mounted on the south elevation was designed by (the now late) Quebec artist Jordi Bonet and is intended to convey enthusiasm and movement. A continuous strip window provides views out from the second floor along the west facade as well as within the courtyard, which was internalized in the podium base. The design of the slim tower harkens back to the work of Mies van der Rohe with its black anodized curtain wall cladding and smoked glass.