UBC Undergraduate Research

An investigation into sustainable artwork for the new SUB Ghirardello, Stefano; Weleski, Dustin; Westman, Jan


The problem that this report seeks to address is the feasibility of installing an art piece in the new Student Union Building (SUB). The goal of the art piece is to promote sustainability within the UBC community and to visitors to the SUB. In making a recommendation, a triple-bottom-line assessment was conducted to determine the potential economic, environment, and social impacts of the art piece. The project began with preliminary research into examples of environmentally themed and sustainably created art, and studies discussing the impact of art on society. The research was exclusively obtained from search engines, both scholarly and non-scholarly. It provided many ideas into possible art piece designs and implementations, but lacked in information about the social, environmental, or economic impacts of the pieces discussed. As a result, a survey was conducted in which the project group solicited opinions from the general public regarding a sustainable art piece in downtown Vancouver. As well, a local artist by the name of Sharon Kallis was contacted for an interview about her work in environmentally themed art, in order to gain more understanding about the economic cost of her works. From the research, survey, and interview, a number of conclusions were drawn. It is strongly recommended that an art piece be installed in the new SUB. It was found that public art display can be an effective means of promoting sustainability. Furthermore, it was concluded that if the UBC waste stream can be used as the sole source of material for the art piece, then the economic cost and negative environmental impacts of the piece can be greatly reduced in scale. In addition, hiring an artist to work with students, within view of the public, provides a low cost solution to creating public interaction with the piece. As a result, the potential for promoting sustainability outweighs the minimal environmental impact and economic cost of such a project. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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