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Rhodri Windsor-Liscombe
Point Grey Pre-University (pre-1890)
Emma Spenner Norman
Early History (1890-1949)
Diane Archibald
Post-War Reconstruction (1950-1980)
Lara Tomaszewska
Urban Community (1980-2003)
Lisa Moffatt

by Rhodri Windsor-Liscombe

The University of British Columbia project, Recovering the University Fabric, with the support of the Vice-President External Affairs, was undertaken to create both a more detailed and comprehensive research tool on the history of the campus and its buildings.

The purpose is to identify the diverse documentary, bibliographic and contextual materials that record the proposed and executed construction of the university fabric. The built fabric, architectural and planning, is thereby related to the fabric of ideas, techniques, representations, policies and people involved in its making. The citing and interrelation of data from the archival to the more anecdotal woven into this research tool thus endeavours to capture the complex weft and weave of events and initiative that resulted in the physical structure of the University of British Columbia.

Recovering the University Fabric is intended to assist a wide range of researchers ranging from those faculty studying the history of Canadian universities or architecture and planning, to members of staff seeking specific information, students engaged in academic study or members of the wider community interested in the development of the institution and province. For this reason the research tool depends upon an historical time-line concentrated on the construction of the university fabric the planning, infrastructure and architecture divided into four main sections representing the main phases of activity; the time-line includes a portal history of the site prior to the foundation of the university between 1908 and 1913.

The four sections were defined by the research team coordinated by Dr. Rhodri Windsor-Liscombe (Art History) and comprising Drs. Michael Larice (SCARP), David Ley (Geography), Sherry McKay (Architecture) and Chris Hives (University Archives), assisted by four graduate Research Assistants: Diane Archibald (an Interdisciplinary and Architecture student awarded her PhD in May 2004), Lisa Moffatt (SCARP), Emma Norman (Geography) and Lara Tomaszewska (Art History) and in consultation with Jim Carruthers (Land and Building Services), together with the UBC History Project scholars Drs. Jean Barman, William Bruneau and Cole Harris.

This group established the objectives and organization of the research tool, with particular respect to the optimum means of accommodating the variation in record type and quality as well as capturing the contextual information and resources accessory to a proper understanding of the evolving development of the campus.

Several themes emerge from this mapping of the data relevant to the sequential realization of the university fabric:

The University Fabric will contribute to the contextualization of the current substantial growth of the campus, the UBC History Project, further enhancement of archival and proposed architectural/planning heritage policies at UBC. The clarification of the documentary, bibliographic and representational (visual and textual) resources on the history of the campus underscores the value of completing an oral history project, the potential for an exhibition examining the planning and architectural development of the Point Grey site, and a program of concentrated research on specific issues, figures and episodes.