A new year brings new looks, as Western ushers in a fresh academic term with numerous changes – both completed and ongoing – across its campus.
Topping the list, Western officials are encouraging commuters to turn off their ‘autopilots’ as a major change to how vehicles enter the Springett/Huron Parking Lot is up and running.
Last week, the Brescia Lane entrance to the Springett lot closed permanently. Drivers must now enter the lot via a new shared entrance with Huron University College on Western Road. The new entrance is located north of Brescia Lane, between Lambton Drive and Elgin Drive, allowing cars to enter Springett from both the southbound and northbound lanes of Western Road.
Early traffic reports are positive, as commuters were finding their way into the lot fairly smoothly, said Keith Marnoch, Western’s Director of Media and Community Relations.
“Traffic and parking around campus are always a bit challenging as the fall term begins,” Marnoch said, “and this year has a few extra construction-related complications. But, so far, things have gone relatively smoothly.”
The modifications to the Springett lot necessitated the removal of some parking spaces for both grey and green permit holders and may require commuters to seek alternative lots. In anticipation of the shift, 170 new grey zone parking spaces have been added to the South Valley Lot, located between the Western Student Recreation Centre and Arthur & Sonia Labatt Health Sciences Building.
Though some lots will fill over the course of the day, there will remain capacity on campus for Western parking customers, Marnoch said.
“The various construction projects underway across campus are a sign of progress and we’re very excited to see these enhancements roll-out in the weeks and months ahead,” Marnoch continued.
The new entrance is only one of several projects, started this summer, which are either wrapping or continuing through the fall semester. Included are:
Let there be light(s)
New traffic lights have been added along Perth Drive, located in front of the North Campus Building. The lights, up and running for two weeks now, replace the flashing crossing lane lights that, for years, had been located in front of the John Labatt Visual Arts Centre.
Old buildings, new names
In anticipation of future renovations to University College, the Faculty of Arts & Humanities has moved into The Arts & Humanities Building, the renamed former Ivey Business School building, which will serve as a temporary home to the faculty. Sharing that space will be Western International and the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, which moved into the International and Graduate Affairs Building, the renamed Lawrence Centre neighbouring the former Ivey building.
New academic building to house FIMS/Nursing
Preparation for the construction of a new academic building to house the Faculty of Information and Media Studies (FIMS) and Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing has begun with infrastructure and sewer upgrades. The temporary visitor parking lot located to the north of the Health Sciences Building has been closed permanently. Visitor spots along the south end of the lot will remain with temporary interruptions throughout the project. Additionally, new visitor spaces have been designated in the Talbot lot at the corner of University Drive and Lambton Drive.
The new four-storey building is expected to be completed by January 2017.
Music Building construction plays on
Construction of a new facility for the Don Wright Faculty of Music has yet to strike a sour note, as the $25-million project continues on schedule.
The largest elevator made is being installed to haul pianos and timpani up and down to the piano tech and percussion studios. Balancing the need for natural light and good acoustics has created some style features. Lower level spaces contain skylights, while spaces between the blocks allow light to enter lower level windows. As students arrive, they will see a finished exterior on the building behind the fencing, as the exterior masonry veneer is starting to be installed now.
The project is expected to be completed by winter 2015.
Additional Emergency Weather Siren
In 2012, Western installed a city-first emergency Whelen omni-directional weather siren on the roof of Alumni Hall. This summer, the university added a second siren to the campus system., Located on the fifth floor roof of Social Science, the new siren boosts coverage to include the Saugeen/Maitland halls, Elgin Hall, Springett parking areas and Windemere Manor, including surrounding neighbourhoods.
A stretch of southern Ontario including London is known to experience tornadoes, such as the one that devastated the town of Goderich in August 2011, and the one that hit Grand Bend earlier this summer. In the case of weather emergencies, early warning tools, accompanied by comprehensive emergency plans, increase public safety.
The siren system will be tested for 20 seconds at noon every Friday.