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UBC Okanagan, Faculty of Medicine,
Health Sciences Centre, Kelowna, BC
In 2008 planning commenced for the new Health Sciences Centre at the Kelowna campus of UBC Okanagan. The new building would provide a home for the new Southern Medical Program, as part of the BC distributed medical program, which was successfully launched in 2004 between the campuses of UBC Vancouver, the UNBC Prince George, and the UVic Victoria. While the planning and implementation of the clinical academic sites began in 2005, and currently has over 70 sites located at teaching hospitals throughout BC, it was clear a fourth university site was required in the southern interior region to provide the ability to educate year 1 to 4 undergraduate medical students at the Kelowna campus.
As the AV design firm of record for the distributed medical program from its inception in 2002, we worked with the UBC Faculty of Medicine stakeholders, and Stantec Consulting as the lead architects, to design the teaching spaces able to meet the performance, functional and operational requirements of the program. This required review of details involving all design disciplines; architectural, acoustical, electrical, lighting design, millwork, mechanical, and network infrastructure.
Creating suitable teaching and learning spaces such as lectures theatres, histology/multipurpose labs, gross anatomy wet labs, and small seminar rooms to support the program was the key design criteria for this project. The AV systems had to be integrated into the architectural design, without compromising the function of the spaces from the teaching or operational perspective.
Both the 125-seat and the 75-seat lecture theatres are equipped with high definition videoconferencing-based distance education systems, enabling the UBC HSC site to remotely connect to any of the distributed medical program sites, and provide its participants with the ability have a learning experience equivalent to sitting in the same room as the instructors and the students at the other sites. Side by side high definition projection screens allow the students to see the remote participants/instructor and the presented content. In each lecture theatre four high definition motorized robotic cameras capture the local participants. Push to talk student microphones allow the cameras to zoom in on the student asking a question, and display the image at all participating sites.
The 32-seat multipurpose lab functions as both a teaching lab and a computer lab, with one PC for each student. Displays located at each seat can be used as the local computer screen or be used as part of the videoconferencing based distance education systems. This allowed UBC to use the lab for teaching sessions, and provides a learning lab for students to work on their own.
The Gross Anatomy lab is a wet lab, with the requirement for both the instructor and the students to be able to work on specimens without the AV systems getting in the way. This meant no devices can be mounted on the floor, everything had to be suspended from the ceiling: displays, cameras and the student microphones.
To meet all the performance requirements, we selected a fiber optics based AV routing system. This provides high bandwidth signal transmission between devices without distance limitations; low vulnerability to any EMI or RF interference issues; and is future proof, allowing for a fiber optic cabling infrastructure that will support future video system upgrades with higher bandwidth requirements.
The building and the AV systems were commissioned in the fall of 2010 and after detailed inter-site performance testing was conducted in December of 2010, the new southern medical program was launched in January of 2011.