Current phase of Open Space strategy focuses on Kent North and campus core

Artist rendering of Kent North space featuring a raingarden near Physics and Astronomy Building

Artist's rendering of proposed Kent North renovation between McIntosh Gallery and University College. The update is expected to enhance active transportation, increase gathering space, and feature a rain garden.

"Kent Drive" landscape work continues

by Facilities Management Communications Staff

A continuation of the outdoor enhancements completed near Univerity College in 2019, the Kent North revitalization will carry on the vision established by the Open Space strategy.

Beginning in April, the stretch of asphalt that runs between Middlesex Drive and Oxford Drive will be overhauled. The space, which was once an awkwardly configured parking lot, will become a more animated, aesthetically pleasing pedestrian commons with a focus on active transportation, outdoor learning, and health and wellness.

Similar to the Kent Drive work in 2019, the project will reconfigure the current avenue to create a greener space with seating for social interactions. The development of the landscape will also improve access to the south entrance to the Physics & Astronomy Building.

Unique to the space will be campus’ first naturalized rain garden. The rain garden will demonstrate biodiversity through low impact development (LID). This will have native, low-maintenance plantings, acting as a filtration system for rain and snow runoff. Below the surface, the filtered runoff will be naturally reintroduced into the surrounding ecosystem.

Roughly a dozen projects have been completed or are underway in support of the Open Space Strategy. The Kent North revitalization supports the same vision as the first renovated area of Kent Walk in front of University College, the reconfiguration of Alumni Circle, the exterior lighting plan, and the recently installed Alumni/Thompson bike shelter.

“Three years ago, we began our first of many projects to enhance the beauty and safety of our outdoor spaces,” says Associate Vice-President, Facilities Management, Elizabeth Krische. “The Kent North phase of the plan continues the good work and kicks off a series of other projects to improve the campus core.”

Krische notes that several upcoming projects have been earmarked for completion in the near future and will affect the hub of pedestrian walks and communal spaces that surround University College and the iconic UC Hill. The updates will impact the view as travellers come into campus across the University Drive Bridge, but Krische says it is more than that.

“Enhancing the beauty of our campus is half of the equation,” says Krische. “The Open Space plan’s primary focus is safety and wellness and these factors propel the design of each of these projects.”

To that end, each phase considers the infusion of active transportation, improved exterior lighting, and greater accessibility.

During construction, pedestrian traffic will be redirected to the perimeter of the work area and along the north side of the project. Service interruptions will be posted on FM’s service interruption Twitter account and online calendar.

The project is scheduled for completion in September.

Construction Resources

Western News Article (May 2021)

Western News Article (June 2021)

Rendering of Kent North looking south from Social Science CentreProject Scope:
Builds on Western’s Open Space Strategy to accommodate future growth on campus while making campus more friendly to and safer for pedestrians and cyclists. More memorable, welcoming, beautiful, functional, safe, sustainable public spaces that embed stewardship into the landscape; gateways that bring people into Western and send Western out into the world.

Project Duration:
Construction: May 2021 - Fall 2021

Project Locations:
Construction will extend along the paved area from Middlesex Drive to Oxford Drive. The project will impact walkways, loading docks, and entrances around Physics & Astronomy, University College, MacIntosh Gallery, and Stevenson/Lawson Hall

Aerial image of the area being renovated

Images of Kent North and project progress.

Construction photo

Project image during construction

Construction of project