Kent North revitalization headlines a busy summer for construction on campus

Facilities Management Communications Staff
April 30, 2021

A continuation of the outdoor enhancements completed in front of University College in 2019, the Kent North revitalization will carry on the vision established by the Open Space Strategy.

Artist's rendering of the Kent North revitalization featuring a rain garden to the south of Physics and Astronomy building

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

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. Throughout the summer, Facilities Management will be managing dozens of capital and maintenance projects on campus. The following is a selection of the higher-profile projects and/or those that may have an impact on commuting or traveling on campus.

Summer renovation and new construction capital projects

  • Biomedical Research Facility
  • Somerville House Renovations
  • Labatt’s Health Sciences Addition
  • Thames Hall Renovation
  • Indigenous Learning Centre - Faculty of Education Building
  • Entrepreneurship & Innovation Centre
  • TD Waterhouse Stadium – Turf and Track Replacement

Civil work including parking lots, roadways, and walkways

Western roadways and parking lots are heavily used, particularly throughout the academic year. The work to improve those surfaces will include:

  • Huron Drive street lighting replacement
  • Perth Drive partial asphalt replacement
  • Middlesex Drive partial asphalt replacement
  • Talbot College partial asphalt replacement
  • Lambton Drive partial asphalt replacement
  • South Valley parking lot partial asphalt replacement
  • Various smaller sections of roadways, sidewalks, and parking lots will be repaired as a measure of standard maintenance

Roofing Projects

Roofing will typically have little impact on services; however, roof work at times can be noisy and generate an unpleasant odour. Laydown areas for material and cranes may impact accessibility on the exterior ground level. Roof work is scheduled for the following buildings this summer:

  • Faculty of Education Building
  • Collip Building

Summer construction updates and service interruptions are found on Facilities Management’s dedicated webpage: