History

UBC’s Point Grey campus is the result of a century of planning, design and construction.

The University has undergone many changes to accommodate a growing, diverse campus community. Through evolutionary development, UBC assumes new qualities and aesthetics that contribute to its physical and cultural landscape.

To find out how the UBC Vancouver campus became what it is today, take a look at the UBC Campus Historical Context & Themes study, which was prepared as a joint funding partnership with the provincial government’s Heritage Legacy Fund and BC150 initiative.

The broad ideas and historical “themes” in the study form a framework that tells the stories about campus spaces, how they came to be, and how the political and cultural climate influenced campus development. The study also identifies elements of the campus that manifest those themes. These elements include the tangibles such as buildings and structures, hard landscapes, planting, and views, but also intangible aspects of a place such as patterns of siting or usage.

Ten historical themes are documented in the study:

  1. The coastal forest clearing
  2. Unencumbered perspective
  3. Commanding position
  4. Room for research
  5. Community building
  6. Extending Reach
  7. Pioneering Spirit
  8. Resourcefulness
  9. Modern Openness
  10. Cultural Expansion and Inclusion

The Historical Context & Themes study is an important companion to the UBC Public Realm Plan and can be a useful context piece for  future planning policy and development guidelines.

If there’s one constant through UBC’s physical development history, it’s the repeated use of the natural setting as a unifying theme. Recent plans have revived interest in the stunning backdrop of mountain and ocean scenery that inspired planners a century earlier. Buildings and landscapes are designed around the natural beauty of the University. The boundaries that formerly defined the academic zones on campus have become more porous as a result of the recent emphasis on interdisciplinary work.