Graduate Life Centre

The renovations to the first floor of Thea Koerner House, now home to the Graduate Life Centre (GLC) are now complete. The space is open 9am-9pm during the week (no weekend access), accessible with your graduate student card.



The Thea Koerner House (TKH) was established in 1961 as a result of a donation to UBC by Leon J. Koerner in memory of his wife. The building received the Massey Gold Medal in 1961 for its architectural design, and preserves much of its historical character to today, with features such as an oil painting of Thea Koerner, wall-upon-wall of books, and a marbled fireplace mantel. The space was intended to act as a ‘home away from home’ for graduate students by promoting the social, intellectual, cultural, and recreational interests of UBC graduate students.

Over time, the use and layout of the building was modified for differing needs, making it no longer the best fit for its original purpose. Simlutaneously, the graduate student body grew significantly since the completion of the building from a couple of thousand to exceeding 10,000 with differing needs than in the sixties. Additionally, built in the middle of the 20th century, the building does not currently align with modern sustainability and accessibility standards



Revitalize Thea Koerner House to serve the needs of the 21st century UBC graduate student community and fulfill its original mission and vision to the fullest potential.
Conserve the heritage elements and incorporate sustainable practices.



The graduate life centre will act as a graduate student collegium, strengthening the graduate student community, and creating opportunities for new social events such as post-thesis defense parties, board game gatherings, intercultural dinners, and family nights. 


Graduate students will be able to host, lead and participate in self-organized academic events, such as seminars, conferences, or discussion groups, expanding the boundaries of their academic interests beyond that of their disciplines, and creating a diverse and lively intellectual community;

Professional Development

Graduate students will be able to participate in coordinated professional development programming offered by a diverse number of partners, including Graduate Pathways to Success, the Centre for Student Involvement & Careers,  UBC Alumni, and others;

The GLC in UBC's Strategic Vision

People and places

The Graduate Life Centre will become an inspiring space, and the core of an inclusive thriving graduate student community, supporting each graduate student on their journey to excellence and fulfillment.

Research excellence

The combination of formal and informal spaces open to graduate students of all disciplines will facilitate the organic growth of trans-disciplinary collaboration, knowledge exchange, and the development of a research culture characterized by mutual support.

Transformative Learning

The Graduate Life Centre will redefine the graduate student experience on the UBC campus for many generations of students. The combination of structured programming and informal spaces, where graduate students are empowered to pursue their own interests will foster interdisciplinary learning for future generations of professionals and scholars.

Local and Global Engagement

An inclusive space where graduate students can meet and socialize, without any barriers, can become the corner stone of new global relationships between current students. In this way, the Graduate Life Centre can be at the core of the experience, and engagement of future alumni, creating the basis for support and collaboration across generations of UBC graduate students.

Project Timeline & Future Plans

2018: The Graduate Life Centre Vision is Born

The vision of a vibrant, engaging, community-oriented centre, that serves the academic and social needs of graduate students is born.

The "Graduate Life Centre" aligns with the 4 core areas of UBC's strategic plan, and receives funding for a feasibility study.

The project is co-led by the Graduate Student Society, the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and the Vice-President Students.

2019: Student Consultation

Graduate students are consulted on the feel, look, and types of spaces they want to see in a Graduate Life Centre. Some highlights:

  • A place where I can sit comfortably to have a cup of coffee
  • A feeling of safety and being welcome
  • A place that I can access easily, and I can feel I belong to
  • A place to promote the sense of community
  • A place for friends, down time, connections, community and comfort

2020: Research & Planning

Similar facilities at peer institutions are investigated and stakeholders are also consulted. A preliminary design and a phased approach is proposed.

With the support of the Vice-President Students and G+PS, and the advocacy efforts of GSS, the UBC BoG allocates 1.2 M to the project.

2022: Phase 1 Design and Tender

A final design for Phase 1 is proposed and agreed between stakeholders. This phase includes a social lounge, child-friendly spaces for graduate students who are parents, self-dining facilities, a food outlet, and integration with outdoor spaces.

Further funding is committed by the Faculty of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies and the UBC-V Provost, showing broad support for this project.

The project is tendered and adjudicated for construction.

2023: Construction and final preparation

Construction of the first phase of the project is carried out, resulting in the new graduate lounge, study space, self-kitchen, a child-friendly area, as well as quiet and collaborative study space. The space is furnished with a combination of new and restored original furniture, which was donated along with the building in the 1960s. The washrooms are upgraded to meet modern accessibility standards. 

2024: Open to graduate students

The newly renovated space opens to all graduate students hosting orientation events for the first time. Activities, such as games night, are organized, and graduate students start fully enjoying their new space. 

The Future Phases

Phase 1 focused on the social aspects of the graduate student life, and is now complete. Phases 2 & 3 focus on the academic, cultural and fitness programming needs.

The estimated cost of the much needed improvements is $5M, and efforts are ongoing to raise the necessary capital.


Project Sponsors and Support

The Graduate Life Centre is a collaborative project co-sponsored by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, the Vice-President Students, and the Graduate Student Society.

The sponsors are very thankful to all persons and departments who have provided in-kind and financial support, including the President, the Provost and Vice-President Academic, Facilities Planning, Infrastructure Development and Building Operations.