Though it doesn’t quite fit into the traditional concept of what a “heritage” structure should look like, UBC’s Empire Pool has been a fixture of the campus landscape for 60 years. The 50-meter long outdoor pool was built for the British Empire & Commonwealth Games in 1954, and has since hosted numerous men’s and women’s swimming and diving events that have drawn large crowds from across the city. Architects Sharp & Thompson, Berwick, Pratt (including Frederic Lasserre and F.W. Urry) not only designed the pool but also the adjacent War Memorial Gymnasium, which opened in 1951. The firm had previously been selected as the official University architects by an international competition in 1912.
Sadly, the 60th anniversary of the Games also marked the end for Empire Pool. Though popular with students, athletes, and the general public, the facility was permanently closed early this year due to a filtration/mechanical failure. All is not lost, however, as the historical record is loaded (particularly with photos), and a brand-new $38.5-million Aquatic Centre is poised to replace both the outdoor lanes and the adjacent 1978 indoor centre by 2016.