UBC MacLeod: Inside the Envelope

June 14, 2022

Clothing a building has become infinitely more complex due to new building codes. Building envelope technology, which once may have been akin to throwing on jeans and a t-shirt, is now the equivalent of designing a custom Gore-Tex parka, with a sweat-wicking base layer for good measure.

As expectations for buildings’ environmental performance increase to meet new sustainability goals by clients and municipalities, navigating envelope requirements calls for new expertise and staying on top of an expanding list of considerations—from energy modelling and specialized envelope knowledge to fabrication and construction sequencing. All of this takes a closely coordinated team of specialists on any given project.


Proscenium has worked with great teams on sustainably-focused buildings over the years with unique envelope solutions—both for mass timber and concrete. Our solutions are driven by a proactive approach to addressing energy conservation in every element. For the soon-to-be-completed UBC MacLeod Renewal project (with Teeple Architects), we led a complete renewal of the building envelope, as well as a complete gutting and reprogramming to bring the home of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Faculty up to code and up to date.


On UBC MacLeod (targeting LEED Gold), we used energy modelling to develop performance targets for the envelope design, comprised of continuous exterior insulation behind precast concrete panels acting as a cladding in a rainscreen assembly. This method significantly reduces thermal bridging and provides an enhanced level of occupant comfort in tandem with an advanced mechanical system.

Energy modelling was based on predicted 50-year climate data to make sure that the building’s energy use would remain within acceptable parameters in the future, limiting the need to modify building systems in response to extreme weather events or rising temperatures.


The pre-cast concrete panels are a cornerstone of the new design, and a contemporary approach to the original modernist building designed by Thompson, Berwick & Pratt (1964). Proscenium worked closely with UBC’s Campus and Community Planning Department to preserve the architectural integrity of the building, maintain the bold expression of the modernist structural grid, and choose materials that convey a similar strength and stature as the original cladding.

UBC MacLeod nearing completion, May 2022

The new envelope not only meets stringent energy performance requirements, but consciously and respectfully preserves the principles of the original façade while reflecting new possibilities of working with concrete.

We are excited to say that UBC MacLeod will achieve occupancy this summer to be ready for classes in September.


Proscenium’s expertise with high performance building envelopes has been recognized on other recent projects:

MEC Vancouver Store (commercial/office)

Elenore on Fifth (boutique multifamily residential)

Langara Science & Technology Building (institutional)