University of British Columbia – Irving K. Barber Learning Centre

Electrical Construction

project at a glance

  • 250,000



  • Electrical
    From preconstruction to construction to post project support and service, Houle provides all your electrical construction and renovation needs.
  • Lighting
    Houle offers in-house lighting design, consultation, installation, and maintenance services. We focus on energy saving solutions so you can lower your electricity bill while reducing your carbon footprint.

Scope of Work

Completed: 2008

Owner: UBC Properties Trust

Located at the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus, the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre was built around the refurbished core of the 1925 UBC Main Library, one of the first buildings constructed on the UBC campus. This 250,000 square foot facility is home to the province’s largest academic library, with a collection of more than 10 million items. The Learning Centre has extensive study spaces, a lecture theatre, meeting halls, seminar rooms, and a cafe. It is also home to Canada’s first “library robot,” which can retrieve items in less than a minute by remote-controlled hydraulic lifts.

Houle was responsible for the electrical construction of the combined heritage restoration / new construction landmark university facility. Houle also installed additional requirements including all lighting and the very early smoke detection apparatus (VESDA), which can detect the earliest signs of smoke throughout the facilities’ many valuable inventory areas.

The unique architectural designs throughout the facility presented many installation challenges. In the heritage core, Houle worked around infrastructure that was built in 1925, while the design of the new additions had significant concrete structures as well as wide open spaces. The architectural design presented both unforeseen changes in the construction schedule as well environmental and space-sensitive construction areas. Extensive coordination with other trades was required to accommodate both heritage and modern design challenges. Additionally, the lighting installations were especially challenging. The architectural lines of the ceilings required the lighting be lined up on the floor and then installed using laser levels to ensure accuracy.

Despite unforeseen construction schedule changes, Houle continuously delivered quality work in a timely fashion, meeting all deadlines under challenging and changing construction schedules. Houle saved the client money through the early purchase and warehousing of lighting fixtures that went up significantly in price over the course of the project.