Public Realm Plan

We recognize the campus as a landscape - where the public realm includes a connected pedestrian and bicycle network filled with art, places to sit, play, socialize, eat or study, and natural places to stop and reflect.

Download the Public Realm Plan


The public realm is the collection of outdoor spaces between buildings shared by UBC students, faculty, staff, alumni and the broader community. It is comprised of everything from courtyards, pathways and student displays, to street furniture and public art.

The 2009 Public Realm Plan is guided by the Vancouver Campus Plan to put principles and policies for outdoor spaces into action.

While past UBC Public Realm Plans focused on car priority roadways and lighting, this plan prioritizes:

  • Walking and cycling paths
  • Student mental health
  • Contact with nature, and
  • Campus experience.

The Public Realm Plan also includes guidance on street furniture (ex. benches, bike racks and water fountains), planting palettes for promoting sustainable and resilient landscapes, locations of gardens and green space, and other ways to animate the public realm at UBC.

The natural landscape of UBC, including trees, shrubs and other vegetation, are essential to enhancing ecological and human health and wellbeing on campus. The Plan specifies the importance of trees for shading, deflecting heat gain in the summer, and connecting people to the public spaces on campus. As such, we work with campus arborists and forestry experts to enhance campus trees, as well as a regulated process for permitting tree removals if deemed necessary on academic or neighbourhood land.

Results of the Public Realm Plan

  • Main Mall and University Boulevard are beautiful, pedestrian corridors with public art and places for students to sit. 
  • Large open spaces, like University Commons, provide space and programming for large gatherings of students, faculty and staff.
  • Small open and green spaces, like Library Garden and the Knoll, support informal learning and social interaction.

Updating the Plan

90% of projects prioritized in the initial Public Realm Plan have already been realized and Phase 2 is currently in the planning stages. A new Public Realm Plan will be initiated through an update to the Vancouver Campus Plan.