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Media Release | Oct. 7, 1996

C.K. Choi Building new home for Institute of Asian Research at UBC

The C.K. Choi Building for the Institute of Asian Research was officially opened today at the University of British Columbia.

The building houses five research centres focusing on different regions of Asia: China, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, and India and South Asia. It was made possible by contributions from a number of major donors from Canada and Asia, including a major donation from the family of Vancouver business leader C.K. Choi.

C.K. Choi, his son David Choi and other members of the Choi family joined university dignitaries, Vancouver Mayor Philip Owen, B.C. Education Minister Moe Sihota and Raymond Chan, federal Secretary of State for Asia Pacific in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the opening ceremonies.

"This will be a very powerful and important institute of learning that builds on UBC's long-standing tradition of research on Asia and Asia Pacific affairs. We are most grateful to the Choi family for their very generous support for this building, as well as for the numerous scholarships they have established to assist UBC students," said university President David Strangway.

"The university is also grateful to the many individuals and organizations who have committed their financial support to the five centres of Asian research that are now housed in the C.K. Choi Building, and to the Government of B.C. for its support through the matching fund program," he added.

Special events held to inaugurate the new building include Asia Week Oct. 7-11, a celebration featuring daily concerts and cultural events that highlight the different regions represented in the building. Displays range from music, dance and traditional arts and crafts to the latest Asian Internet Web sites on view at the Institute's multimedia centre. Daily tours will be given of the award-winning building, which is constructed entirely of recycled and recyclable materials and features the latest advances in environmental design.

As well, the institute will host an academic conference Oct. 8-9 called The Empowerment of Asia, which will bring together prominent scholars from Asia and North America to discuss Asia's growing international influence.

"This gathering promises to be a milestone in the reassessment of Asia's role in the emerging global system," said Terence McGee, director of the Institute of Asian Research.

Harvard University Prof. Tu Weiming, a renowned international scholar on Confucian thought, will deliver the keynote address. Weiming, director of the Harvard-Yenching Institute, will speak on Confucian ethics as a spiritual resource for the emerging global community.

Facts about the C.K. Choi Building for the
Institute of Asian Research

General features

  • One of Canada's most environmentally sound building projects.
  • Designed by Matsuzaki Wright Architects of Vancouver.
  • Total project cost $6 million.
  • Offers 2,780 square metres (30,000 square feet) of resource and office space.
  • Funding from a number of major donors from Canada and Asia including a generous donation from C.K. Choi and family, with matching funds from the Government of B.C.

Environmental innovations

  • The building was constructed using materials that are recyclable or recycled, including bricks from demolished buildings and wooden beams from UBC's Old Armouries.
  • Water is preheated using waste heat from an existing steam line.
  • Cooling and air exchange is provided by 100 per cent natural ventilation. Atriums ventilate different parts of the building through a stack effect. High ceilings and windows that open also take advantage of natural ventilation.
  • Offices are placed to optimize natural light, so the building requires less than one-third the artificial lighting typically used in an office building. Daylight sensors automatically dim indoor lighting.
  • Its energy-efficient design reduces UBC's electricity use by 192,000 kilowatt-hours a year, the equivalent of the amount of energy used annually by 19 single family homes. This provides a savings to the university of $9,600 a year.
  • Waterless, odourless composting toilets require no sewer connections and produce fertilizer for the garden.
  • Recycled grey water from sinks and captured rain water is used for landscape watering, cutting water consumption in half.
  • Landscape design by Cornelia Hahn Oberlander includes gingko trees, known for their ability to clean the air of pollutants.


  • The 1996 Earth Award from the Building Operators and Managers' Association of B.C.
  • Progressive Architecture Award for Green Architecture, 1995
  • Nominated for the 1996 Energy User News efficient building awards, a North American-wide competition
    As well, the Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Institute, which investigates global issues of energy conservation, is including the Choi building in a series of case studies on the most promising example of green development.


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Terence McGee
Director, Institute of Asian Research
Tel: 604.822.4686

Gavin Wilson
UBC Public Affairs
Tel: 604.822.2130


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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