UC, Kent Drive landscape work to begin

Special to Western News

Beginning May 1, renovations will begin on Kent Drive, the laneway in front of University College, stretching across to the front the Physics & Astronomy Building and west between Stevenson Hall and the McIntosh Gallery. The project is designed to improve the functionality and the aesthetic of one of the campus’ most picturesque locales.

As the two-year renovation project to the interior of University College comes to a close this spring, construction will begin to revitalize the surrounding outdoor space.

Beginning May 1, renovations will begin on Kent Drive, the laneway in front of University College, stretching across to the front the Physics & Astronomy Building and west between Stevenson Hall and the McIntosh Gallery. The project is designed to improve the functionality and the aesthetic of one of the campus’ most picturesque locales.

Currently used as a 40-vehicle parking lot, the area will be refreshed and repurposed to prioritize pedestrians and social interaction. Parking spaces will be removed from atop the hill and along the surrounding roadways around University College. The enhancements will reconfigure the laneway by creating a greener space with seating for social interactions, outdoor learning space and promotion of health and wellness.

“Prioritizing pedestrians and active transportation is a key objective of Western’s Open Space Strategy,” said Lynn Logan, Vice President (Operations & Finance). “The view up the hill to University College is the iconic postcard picture of Western’s campus and the changes to Kent Drive will not only enhance the beauty of this space but make it much more functional for the campus community. This is a prime example of how Western’s landscape will be enhanced in the years to come.”

Special to Western NewsSome areas along Kent Drive will be reclaimed for grass and plantings and new trees. Seating will be installed throughout the area to encourage use of the space for socializing and leisure activities. A new stone retaining wall will be constructed at the base of University College.

The renovation will see the removal of the existing asphalt, to be replaced by attractive paving stone, creating a wide pedestrian walkway. Some areas will be reclaimed for grass and plantings and new trees. Seating will be installed throughout the area to encourage use of the space for socializing and leisure activities. A new stone retaining wall will be constructed along Kent Drive, at the base of University College.

During construction, pedestrian traffic will be redirected to the perimeter of the work area and along the west side of the building.

The project should be completed by September.

For the past two years, construction has been underway on the inside of University College which will maintain and enhance the historical features of the building, while bringing the mechanical and electrical systems into the 21st Century. The Faculty of Arts & Humanities will begin to return to the building in July.

There are hundreds of maintenance, repairs and infrastructure upgrade projects underway throughout the year. Significant interruptions to services on campus are listed on the Facilities Management website and updated throughout the summer months. Other renovation and new construction projects:

ThreeC+ – The new 100,000-square-foot Faculty of Engineering building adjacent to Western Road features practical and inspiring space for undergraduates and will be the university’s first LEED Platinum eligible facility. The project will complete at the end of July;

Western Student Recreation Centre Gym addition – Construction on a sixth gymnasium began in early April and will wrap up and the gym will be ready for use in September. The added space will create more flexibility and greater capacity for the centre’s programming. The site is located at the bend where Philip Aziz Drive and Huron Drive meet;

Thames Hall Renovation – A major renovation to Thames Hall will provide updated space for the School of Kinesiology, general-use classrooms and space, and house the Western Health and Wellness Centre. The project is located on the north-east corner of the Alumni Circle. Construction is slated to begin in early 2019, with units moving to temporary locations beginning August 2018;

Althouse College Courtyard addition – A 10,000-square-foot addition that will include a new classroom, meeting rooms and office space. Construction is underway and will be complete by the end of the year;

Bike paths and walkways – Work will include dedicated bike lanes added, focussing on the popular route along Middlesex Drive. The project will feature separated lanes running on either side of the road, including barriers and standard green lane paint;

Resurfacing – Leveling concrete between Social Science Building and University Community Centre to remove trip hazards;

Lighting – Street lighting enhancements to Alumni/Thompson parking lot;

Parking lots and roadways – Work to improve campus roadways and parking lots include:

  • The D.B. Weldon Library lot will be reconfigured to accommodate safer traffic flow. As a result, permit types may change and access to the loading area will be restricted;
  • Parking and stopping along University Drive will be restricted with the median boulevard and parking spots along the inside lanes being removed;
  • Sections of the Althouse College roadway will be resurfaced;
  • Sections of Lambton Drive will be resurfaced;
  • The City of London is underway with Phase 2 of construction on Western Road, between Platt’s Lane and Oxford Drive; and
  • Smaller areas of roadway will be patched, repaired, and resurfaced as a measure of standard maintenance; and

Roofing Projects – Roofing will typically have little impact to services, however, roof work can generate an unpleasant odour. Roof work is scheduled for Elborn College, Dental Sciences and Taylor Library.