A Last Look At UBC’s 60 Year Old “Empire Pool” Before Its Total Destruction


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.

  • Empire Pool at UBC, 196-
    Empire Pool at UBC, 196-
  • Empire Pool and War Memorial Gym
    Empire Pool and War Memorial Gym
  • Diving at Empire Pool, 196-
    Diving at Empire Pool, 196-
  • Empire Pool, 1957
    Empire Pool, 1957
  • Diver at Empire Pool at UBC, 196-
    Diver at Empire Pool at UBC, 196-
  • Empire Pool, 1962
    Empire Pool, 1962
  • Empire Pool Construction
    Empire Pool Construction
  • British Empire Games, 1954
    British Empire Games, 1954
  • Pool & War Memorial Gymnasium, 1978
    Pool & War Memorial Gymnasium, 1978
  • No Lifeguard on Duty
    No Lifeguard on Duty
  • Empty Pool
    Empty Pool
  • The Deep End
    The Deep End
  • Keep Gate Locked
    Keep Gate Locked
  • The Coolest Swim Coach Ever, 1970
    The Coolest Swim Coach Ever, 1970

There are 3 comments

  1. Will Vancouver ever preserve its past, or just keep building and tearing down? Shame on you Vancouver for letting Empire Pool run down and then tear it down!!

  2. I agree with Cindy such a shame to neglect the pool and tear it down. New aquatic facility doesn’t have diving platforms (5m 7.5m 10m) for high level diving competitions but Empire pool did.

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