History of Campus Planning

The UBC Vancouver Campus is the result of over a century of planning, design and construction. Our role is to help shape an evolving campus to meet emerging needs.

Musqueam Territory

The UBC Vancouver campus is situated on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Musqueam people.

Learn more about Musqueam and UBC

Musqueam sʔi:ɬqəy̓ qeqən (double-headed serpent post)
Musqueam sʔi:ɬqəy̓ qeqən (double-headed serpent post) by Brent Sparrow was dedicated on April 6, 2016

Choosing Point Grey

The Province of British Columbia located UBC in Point Grey in 1910. The site was close to — but not part of — Vancouver, the province’s growing industrial and cultural centre. It offered a unique setting with commanding views over the Strait of Georgia and provided ample land for research. At the time, the Minister of Education said UBC would be: “a small city which is capable of being made one of the most interesting and beautiful in the world.” A 1914 Campus Plan by Sharp and Thompson Architects provided the framework for UBC’s growth.

An Evolving Campus

In 1920, the Province of British Columbia set aside 3,000 acres in Point Grey as the University Endowment Lands, with the plan to fund UBC by developing housing. The campus grew slowly and began accelerating through the 1950s to the 1980s, when UBC built much of its existing academic core. In the late 1980s, two decisions shaped UBC’s future: 1) 2,160 acres of land endowment was protected and Pacific Spirit Regional Park was established, and 2) Hampton Place, the first residential community at UBC, was developed. 

Becoming a Complete Community

Since the 1980s, UBC’s academic population has grown rapidly with more than 50,000 students, 14,000 faculty and staff, new facilities, student housing, and six mixed-use campus neighbourhoods.

Three aerial photos of the UBC Campus from 1920, 1970 and 2018
Aerial photos of the UBC Campus from 1920, 1970 and 2018
A drawing of the Sharp and Thompson UBC plan
A drawing of the Grand Plan for UBC by Sharp and Thompson Architects, 1914

Initial proposal for a provincial university


University Endowment Act provides for the funding of the proposed provincial university


Provincial legislature passes a new University Act, which formally establishes UBC

Site Selection: 

Point Grey is selected as the most suitable location for a 175-acre university

The Grand Plan: 

Sharp and Thompson Architects win international design competition for the UBC campus at Point Grey

Fairview Shacks: 

UBC opens temporary headquarters at Fairview Shacks during construction at Point Grey

Photo of students gathered for the Great Trek
Students in "UBC" formation as part of Great Trek, Oct. 28, 1922. Courtesy of UBC Archives
1914 to 1919

Start-up construction on the new university is interrupted by World War I

1922 to 1923
The Great Trek:

Nearly 1,200 students made their way through downtown Vancouver to the unfinished campus at Point Grey. The protest leads the provincial government to authorize the continuation of construction

Move to Point Grey: 

UBC officially moves from Fairview Shacks to the Point Grey campus

An archival photo of the Physics building
A photo of the Physics Building, June 1948. Courtesy of UBC Archives.
1947 to 1951
Post-WWII Expansion: 
Following the Second World War, academic expansion begins and 20 new buildings are added to campus by 1951
First Student Residence: 

Place Vanier Residence is constructed to allow students to live on campus

Second Student Residence: 

Totem Park Residence is constructed to provide additional beds for the growing number of students living on campus

The 1968 Master Plan: 

During this era, the planning and design of the campus departed from the original Beaux Arts vison to embrace a Modernist approach

Building Program: 

UBC completes five-year $71 million building program

Walter Gage Residences: 
Construction of Walter Gage Towers provide nearly 1,800 rooms for senior undergraduate students
Hampton mock up banner large
Drawing of Hampton Place, 1989. Courtesy of UBC Archives.
First Campus Neighbourhood: 

Hampton Place is constructed, establishing UBC’s first campus neighbourhood

Main Campus Plan: 

Renewed growth prompts UBC to prepare a plan to guide future development of University land, resulting in the Main Campus Plan

First Community Planning Process: 
A Memorandum of Understanding is established between UBC and Metro Vancouver for UBC to undertake community planning process
Official Community Plan (OCP): 

An OCP bylaw for UBC is approved by Metro Vancouver

Aerial shot of UBC campus
UBC Vancouver campus looking towards East Mall and University Boulevard
Comprehensive Community Plan (CCP):

A CCP establishes framework for approving neighbourhood plans

UBC Robson Square:

First Neighbourhood Plans adopted:

A satellite campus opens at Robson Square

Neighbourhood Plans adopted:
Neighbourhood Plans adopted: 

Neighbourhood Plans adopted:

UBC Okanagan: 


Neighbourhood Plans adopted:

A UBC campus opens in Kelowna in space that had been operated by Okanagan University College

Vancouver Campus Plan: 
UBC Vancouver Campus Plan (VCP) adopted
Vancouver Land Use Plan: 
UBC Land Use Plan (LUP) (formerly OCP) amended

Campus Plans

Maps and plans of the UBC Vancouver campus as published in the UBC Calendar.