Construction season continues on campus, with the completion of several priority projects this summer, and more to be wrapped up this fall.
One of the most noticeable projects underway is the work on University College (UC) Hill, part of Western’s Open Space Strategy, designed to accommodate future growth and create outdoor space that makes important improvements to mobility across campus and prioritizes pedestrian and cyclist safety.
Earlier this month, a large network of newly graded and surfaced walkways running the length of UC Hill along the south opened. The section features greater accessibility and a gathering plaza near University College.
“The pandemic continues to impact the construction work force and the global supply chain,” said Fred Janzen, director of capital projects. “In light of that, we have prioritized accessibility and have opened these walkways while the remaining work featuring a rain garden, built-in seating and new gathering commons is completed this fall.”
Next year, the final phase of the UC Hill work will include a welcome plaza at the base of the hill and a walkway network.
Janzen notes there is a commitment to protect the iconic view of University College seen when travelling west across University Drive bridge, while creating a more functional, aesthetic and pedestrian-friendly landscape.
Other campus projects either in-progress or recently completed include:
Deep energy retrofit: Utility and infrastructure upgrades to Claudette-McKay Lassonde Pavilion and Spencer Engineering Building have led to a greater than 50 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases, lowering CO2e emissions by roughly 1,123 tonnes. Later this fall, Facilities Management will apply the same strategy with a deep energy retrofit project at the Western Student Recreation Centre that is expected to reduce the building’s equivalent carbon emissions by up to 60 per cent.
Safety enhancements: Three pedestrian and active transportation safety initiatives are slated for this fall. New traffic calming measures will aim to reduce vehicle speeds on all campus roadways. Traffic calming and safety strategies will be introduced on campus as we continue to develop long term pedestrian and street design solutions. A new button-activated walkway will intersect Perth Drive just south of the Chemistry parking lot entrance. Lastly, two new emergency blue phones providing direct voice links to Western Special Constable Services will be added along University Drive by the volleyball courts and in the Medway parking lot.
Ronald D. Schmeichel Building for Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Set for completion in fall 2023, construction is well underway for Western’s first net-zero-energy building, a gathering place that will house a state-of-the art, active learning classroom; a maker space equipped with 3D printers, metalworking, machinery and woodworking tools; and a digital lab.
D.B. Weldon Library: The first phase of the revitalization of Weldon Library is now complete. This includes the completion of new workspace on the fifth floor, creation of a learning commons on the mezzanine, and renovations to the main and the lower floors. Building systems have been updated and the windows and skylights have been replaced with triple-pane windows, resulting in more natural lighting. The second phase is expected to begin scope and design activities this fall.
Indigenous Learning Space: The 10,000-sq.-ft. former Faculty of Education library has been transformed into a home for Indigenous students and Indigenous programming that will be open to the whole campus and broader community. Set to officially open Nov. 7, it will be a place for people to connect and share a common interest in advancing Indigenization, decolonization and reconciliation.
Thames Hall: Western Health and Wellness has consolidated services under one roof in the freshly renovated Thames Hall. The $20-million renovation project, driven by Western’s Student Mental Health and Wellness Strategic Plan, aims to help students thrive personally, socially and academically.
Sport and recreation: Western Alumni Stadium saw significant upgrades this summer, including new seating, turf, track and lighting. On Nov. 26, the stadium will be on full display as Western hosts the 2022 Vanier Cup. The concrete pad and ice-making infrastructure at Thompson Recreation and Athletic Centre were also replaced this summer.
Roads and pathways: A section of Perth Drive was the largest stretch of roadway to be repaired over the summer. The heavily used section near the Chemistry parking lot entrance was resurfaced and lines and sharrows (shared lane markings) were refreshed. Other completed resurfacing projects included roads and pathways near Dental Science circle, Visual Arts, University Drive Bridge, Social Science Centre and Thames Hall. Four of Western’s parking lots also had sections repaved.
Residences: Lambton Hall and Bayfield Hall underwent renovations to accommodate more first-year students. The work also included adding new front desks near the building entrances, new lounge spaces and room updates. Ongoing work to modernize Saugeen-Maitland Hall includes the installation of a new chiller to replace a less efficient unit.
Roof work: Western Science Centre, Biological Science & Geology Building, and Middlesex College had roof work completed over the summer.
“We understand these projects can have a temporary impact on the day-to-day activities of our students, faculty, staff and visitors,” said Janzen. “They vary in size but are all critical to enhancing our facilities and outdoor spaces and we greatly appreciate the patience of our campus community.”