Main Library Architectural Drawings

Main Library concourse 1920sDocumenting the evolution of Main Library, 1923-1964

Drawings from Thompson, Berwick, Pratt and Partners

Drawings from UBC Library

John Ridington, first university librarian“From the very first, architect and librarian have had in mind the fact that one or two generations is a very short time when compared to the life of a university, and that no British Columbian now living can say with certainty to what dimensions the institution may grow in the course of even the next hundred years. This unknown, but vital, factor of expansion was at all times sought to be provided for in designing the library building. It has been accomplished by planning a building to be erected in successive units, as means permit and growth demands.”

— John Ridington (left), first University Librarian, on the opening of the original Library, 1925

In preparation for the re-development of Main Library and its transformation into the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre beginning in 2003, the UBC Library digitized approximately 500 architectural drawings of Main Library. These drawings chronicle the historical development of the building from 1923 to 1964, and were invaluable in providing important information to assist with the removal of the building’s wings and the construction of the new facility around the heritage core.

The architectural drawings come from two sources: the records of Thompson, Berwick, Pratt and Partners, and the records of UBC Library. They can be accessed by going to the file lists, which provide file- and item-level descriptive information for each drawing followed by a thumbnail image that will link to a full-size .PDF image (requires Adobe Acrobat).