Engineering and Computer Science Expansion and New Lab Building

the corner of a large modern-style building covered in paneling with wood features. The building is peaking through from behind some trees.

Looking East from Ring Road at the proposed expansion to the Engineering and Computer Science Building (ECSE)

Rendering of the front entrance of a modern-style building. The building is mostly covered in paneling with the entrance surrounded by colourful vertical pieces. There are trees displayed in the foreground of the image, as well as some cars on the road in front of the building. There is a courtyard in front of the building, with lots of people walking in front.

Rendering of the High Bay Research and Structures Lab (HBRSL) building from Ring Road

Rendering of the interior atrium space of the Engineering Computer Science Building (ECSE). People are walking up and down the modern u-shaped stairs.

Rendering of the Engineering and Computer Science Building (ECSE) interior atrium space

Rendering of the inside of the High Bay Research and Structures Lab high head lab space. There are students in hardhats in a room with beams and posts along the sides and an overhead crane on the ceiling.

Rendering of the High Bay Research and Structures Lab (HBRSL) interior high head lab space

Planning for the Engineering and Computer Science  Expansion 

The university is planning an expansion of the Engineering Computer Science Building and a new High Bay Research and Structures Lab.

In an effort to meet growing demand for graduates from post-secondary engineering programs, UVic is seeking provincial funding to grow the program. UVic's engineering buildings currently include the Engineering Office Wing, Engineering Lab Wing and Engineering Computer Science building. Existing space limitations had resulted in the faculty creating temporary lab spaces in buildings, trailers and Sea-Can containers across campus. 

By adding these two new buildings, UVic will be able to consolidate these temporary facilities into new purpose built facilities, and continue to provide a dynamic learning environment. In addition, co-locating all the engineering design studios and laboratories will facilitate greater student and faculty interactions and support interdisciplinary activities. 

Engineering and Computer Science Extension

The first building, the Engineering Computer Science Extension (ECSE) will be connected to the south of the existing Engineering and Computer Science building and will provide additional laboratories, design studios, offices and research space.

High Bay Research and Structures lab

The second building, the High Bay Research and Structures lab (HBRSL) will be located on parking lot A by the Engineering Lab Wing, and will include a clear high bay structures testing area along with other teaching and research lab space. Together, these buildings will embody the faculty's vision to construct facilities that are at the forefront of green building design.

Project Vision

A project vision has been developed as a tool for values-based decisions throughout the design process. The project vision is:

"The Engineering and Computer Science Expansion will be a beacon of innovation, collaboration and learning for an adaptive and sustainable future."

Project updates 

The planning process for the project.

Detailed Design

The design team has incorporated feedback from the Fall 2020 engagement into the design of the site and buildings. 

Engagement summaries from all engagement events have been added to the documents tab below summarizing what we heard from the campus and broader community.  

Tree Replacement and Environmental Stewardship

Tree removal took place in front of the Engineering and Computer Science Building, in March 2022, on the future building site for the Engineering Expansion project. The intent of harvesting these trees ahead of building construction was to allow time for any suitable trees from this harvest to be dried, prepared, and incorporated into the construction of the National Centre for Indigenous Laws as structural columns. The university is planning to re-use the harvested timber in university projects or gift it to Indigenous communities.

The university is committed to protecting and managing the ecological diversity of the natural areas on campus. Replacement trees will be planted, and landscaping will be restored with Indigenous plantings.

Community engagement

Over 1,140 people participated throughout our engagement process, whether through the pop-up displays, first open house, student research, community presentations, surveys or stakeholder workshops.  engineering-open-house-photos

Community engagement was an essential component of planning for the Engineering and Computer Science Expansion and New Lab Building. The community engagement approach fell within the range of "inform" and "consult", as identified in the Community Engagement Framework's Engagement Approach Criteria Table. The university confirmed this engagement approach with the Community Associations Liaison Committee. 

In response to the Covid-19 situation, we developed Virtual Open Houses in March and September of 2020 as an opportunity for the community to provide feedback on the building and landscape design. The engagement summaries and open house boards for all engagement events are available through the documents tab. 

During the Fall 2020 engagement, we asked participants to send in any questions they had about the project. These questions, along with our responses, can be found under "Frequently asked questions" at the bottom of the "About the project" section below.

About the project


The proposed site for the ECS Expansion was identified as a Future Building site in the 2016 Campus Plan. The proposed six-storey addition to the existing ECS building and a new High Bay Research and Structures Lab in Parking Lot A will provide the space required to support the faculty's growth while minimizing land disturbances and tree removal. The buildings will be developed to support the goals and principles of the Campus Plan including compact growth, campus vibrancy along Ring Road, creating outdoor spaces to encourage campus and public use, and increase academic excellence. 

Engineering Precinct Expansion site location

Architectural designs

The building designs, which incorporated feedback received from the Virtual Open House, have been completed.

The High Bay Lab architectural design concept includes the high head lab space, as well as research and teaching labs on two levels. The proposed design highlights include: 

  1. Relates to Campus Context in height and orientation to the ECS and ELW buildings. 
  2. Remains 'Human-Scale' along Ring Road through the terraced roof design. 
  3. Stepped roofs give a possibility for green roofs, accessible patios and photovoltaics. 
  4. Improves the existing ECS atrium by extending in to the new expansion, bringing light through the roof and becoming the hub of social spaces for both existing and the new ECS. 
  5. Larger lab spaces near the ground floor, and smaller upper floors for research and offices spaces. 
ECS Expansion architectural design concept.


The High Bay Lab architectural design concept has a full basement and full ground level. The areas that are not part of the High Bay program are lowered to create a separate roof. The proposed design highlights include: 

  1. The building fronts Ring Road at a 'human-scale.' 
  2. Large windows provide opportunities to see structural research activities taking place in the lab. 
  3. Potential for accessible roof deck and improvements to ELW entry plaza. 
  4. The building frames the ELW entry plaza to support its animation and creates intuitive navigation from the ELW and ECS buildings. 
  5. Locates loading and storage to the East side of the building, which directly serves the main High Bay lab through an overhead door. 
High Bay Research and Structures Lab architectural design concept.


What's included

The ECS Expansion includes: a common atrium with the existing ECS building, undergraduate design studio, graduate student workstations, environmental and hydraulics labs, building science labs, computational research labs, materials lab, geotechnical labs, biomedical engineering labs, active learning labs, computer labs, faculty collaboration space, and engineering department office spaces. 

The High Bay Research and Structures Lab includes: a gantry crane, strong floor, reaction wall, a separated structural shake table, and several supporting facilities. In addition to research focused on dynamic loading and testing of structural members the high bay lab will also accommodate large scale experiments related to geotechnical and environmental research areas.

The project funding model does not support new designated club spaces; however, the architectural team is working to maximize opportunities for social spaces and informal group work areas within building common areas and atrium spaces. 

Landscape designs

The ECS Expansion's terraced form creates multiple rooftop zones for sustainability features like stormwater capture and green roofs, and rooftop patios. On the ground level, the design is focused on upgrading the existing streetscape and firelane, and the addition of new social plazas. The design highlights include: 

  1. Maximizing opportunities for tree retention; 
  2. Green roof and/or photovoltaics; 
  3. Pedestrian connections; 
  4. Rooftop accessible patio spaces;  
  5. Accessible parking; 
  6. Stormwater feature fed by rooftop run-off; 
  7. Maximizing opportunities for tree retention;  
  8. 'Learners Walk' - a pedestrian route with interpretive signage; and, 
  9. Improved pedestrian and cycling pathways. 


The High Bay Lab landscape design will focus on creating a 'light-industrial' character, complementing the indoor research spaces. The design highlights include: 

  1. Pedestrian connections;  
  2. Maximizing opportunities for tree retention; 
  3. New plantings and outdoor seating; 
  4. Demonstration and laboratory green roof; and,  
  5. Improved pedestrian and cycling pathways. 

Site Plan rendering

Interior design highlights

The interior spaces in the ECS expansion will reveal the wood building structure where possible. At each level, there will be a social space with views out to the neighbouring trees and spaces for informal collaboration.

biomedical lab
Rendering of the biomedical lab in the ECSE building. 
View from the level 2 corridor in the HBRSL Building. 
Proposed collaborative classroom space with views in at the ground level. 
Proposed social spaces with views to trees. 
Storage space provided for students. 


Transportation infrastructure

Active Transportation Infrastructure

Campus Cycling Plan directions have been incorporated into the design including:

  • Covered and uncovered bike parking stalls,
  • End-of-trip facilities such as showers and lockers, and
  • A 3m wide cycling path and a 2m wide pedestrian pathway fronting the building along Ring Road.

Overall, the project aims to support sustainable transportation choices. 

Short-term and Accessible Parking

The project is providing five new parking stalls as parallel parking stalls along Ring Road. These include 3 accessible parking stalls and a loading stall for two vehicles.



The two building designs explore the following approaches;

  • Targeting LEED Gold V4 certification;

  • Targeting CaGBC Zero Carbon Building Standard;

  • Active transportation infrastructure, including parking, shower and changeroom facilities, and a separated cycling path;

  • Compact growth by building on underutilized parking lots and plaza areas, growing up and not out;

  • Mass timber in wall, floor and roof construction to reduce embodied carbon emissions;

  • Electric heat pump HVAC systems operating on BC’s low-carbon electricity grid;
  • Photovoltaics at roof and wall (HBRSL) for electricity generation;
  • Bird-friendly design;
  • Low carbon cladding materials;

  • Reduced GHG emissions for concrete;

  • Whole Building Life Cycle Assessment; 

  • Efficient LED Light Fixtures;
  • Low-flow sanitary fixtures to reduce water usage;
  • Rain gardens and Bioswales to slow and filter water;
  • Green roofs to increase green space and biodiversity and be used for research;
  • Restorative landscapes, including the university's commitment to tree retention and replacement strategy;
  • Indigenous plantings in the landscaping to recreate local ecosystems and include culturally and ecologically important species; and
  • High-performance building envelopes that would increase energy performance and reduce operational carbon through the use of:
    • additional insulation
    • high-performance glazing
    • exterior solar shading devices
    • effective window-to-wall ratios. 



Frequently asked questions

Why is there no meeting or storage space allocated for engineering clubs and teams?

The project is funded by the Provincial government and this funding model does not support new designated club spaces; however, the architectural team is working to maximize opportunities for social spaces and informal group work areas within building common areas and atrium spaces.

There are areas within each building will provide opportunities to exhibit club work, spaces for learning or studying, and spaces for group work. At each level of the ECSE expansion, there are chairs and tables that look out to the forest and provide gathering and collaboration spaces.

How is the project funded?

The project is funded by the provincial government, and by university capital funding and will be partially funded through Faculty fundraising. The Faculty has set up a fundraising plan and campaign leadership advisory council.

Are their outside places to study and outdoor outlets for plugging in laptops?

A variety of outdoor built-in benches will be provided in the landscape areas. Presently we plan to include electrical outlets in many of them.

What is included in the new building to promote occupant health and wellness?

The buildings are being designed with advanced LED lighting emitting warm light. No fluorescent lighting will be used in the project. Heating systems have been separated from ventilation so that air flow is only addressing indoor air quality. Other health and wellness features include:

  • providing natural light;
  • access to outside views;
  • thermal comfort through radiant heating and cooling;
  • exposing the wood structure and including other warm material finishes;
  • implementing high acoustic standards;
  • including end of trip facilities for active transportation; and
  • eliminating materials that emit Volatile Organic Compounds.

The project will also benefit the broader campus community through sustainable deign, new and enhanced outdoor social areas, additional covered bike parking, and the introduction of the Ring Road bike path.

How will flexibility and adaptability be incorporated into the design?

To meet the need for flexibility, facilities will be designed with more generic space modules that can be used by a variety of researchers with varying needs. In addition to flexible spaces, the buildings will require some purpose-built lab space with specialized equipment and infrastructure.

How will lighting into the existing south-facing ECS entrance be maintained?

The existing atrium will be extended into the expansion building, and this new atrium will have skylights to bring light from above, and will also have extensive windows on the western wall.

Will the design include any covered areas for bike storage or for students to be during weather incidents such as heavy rain?

Yes, Current plans indicate a total of 106 short-term bicycle spaces, 34 of these spaces are sheltered. The spaces are in highly visible locations and near building entry points. An additional 20 short-term sheltered bicycle spaces are suggested north of the ECS building, adjacent to the proposed development, however these potential spaces are not counted as part of the Engineering and Computer Science Expansion project.

Long term bicycle spaces are provided from a campus wide perspective where the University strives to consolidate secure long-term parking into bicycle hubs.

What is being done to address the lack of effective grad student offices/spaces?

A consolidated graduate student space on Level 3 serves students from Biomedical Engineering and Civil Engineering. It provides workstations and bookable meeting rooms to complete coursework, prepare research documentation, as well as meet, collaborate and socialize with other graduate students.

I am wondering why there is no mention of considerations of inclusion of Indigenous elements?

The project team will be working with the landscape architect to include indigenous plantings and learning opportunities within the landscape, the building committee is also exploring opportunities for Indigenous artwork within the public areas within the building.

Would any of this affect the nature of Mystic Vale or detract from the natural ambiance of Finnerty Gardens?

The UVic Camps Plan identifies Mystic Vale and Finnerty Gardens as protected natural areas. The project has no impact on these areas.

Project team 

The architectural team leading the engineering expansion project is DIALOG Design

As an integrated, multi-disciplinary firm, DIALOG has decades of experience collaborating with post-secondary institutions, academic faculties, and valued community stakeholders to deliver sustainability-focused educational buildings and learning environments. DIALOG's team is made up of architects, engineers, public engagement professionals and interior designers who value diverse perspectives and believe that design can, and should, meaningfully improve the wellbeing of our communities and the environment we all share. 

For further information contact Mike Wilson, Director - Campus Planning and Sustainability at 250-472-5433 or  

Community engagement was an essential part of planning for the Engineering and Computer Science  Expansion. The campus and neighbourhood association engagement process followed the university’s Community Engagement Framework. The community engagement approach fell within the range of "inform" and "consult", as identified in the framework's Engagement Approach Criteria Table. The university confirmed this engagement approach with the Community Associations Liaison Committee.