and faculty to enjoy, the square delineates a space that is set apart from
the rest of the city, notes Ms. Hanigsberg, and is uniquely Ryerson.
“We’ve given students a sense of place – the sense that this is campus,”
she says. The next big project will be to transform the many small lane-ways that snake through Ryerson’s grounds into more creative spaces, an
endeavor that will be student-driven; the school is currently holding an
online contest to gather the best ideas.
At Montreal’s McGill University, also at the heart of its city, planners
have sought to create a stronger sense of place by cutting out the cars;
but, in their case, the changes have been part of a larger city-wide transformation. In addition to closing the lower campus to motorized vehicles,
the university took over Mc Tavish Street that runs along the west side of
McGill and transformed it into a pedestrian zone.
Chuck Adler, McGill’s director of campus and space planning, notes
that Montreal’s city council was happy to hand over the land in the spring
of 2010 when the university agreed to manage it. The city has been working
with school administrators to integrate Mc Tavish with a larger corridor
that would let pedestrians walk all the way from the St. Lawrence River to
Mount Royal – a trip of about two kilometres – as part of its goal to create
a network of promenades urbaines by 2017 in celebration of Montreal’s
The corridor, outfitted with portable plants and benches, eventually
will boast more permanent gardens and trees. The nearby Mc Tavish Reservoir will be repaired and the green space above it revitalized. Mr. Adler
says all this coincides with a number of other moves at McGill to make
its campus pedestrian-friendly. The goal is aided by the fact that almost
90 percent of McGill students already use public transit. McGill lobbied
hard for city bike lanes to be routed close to campus, and it offers shared
Bixi Bikes and has installed a number of bike racks.
And while McGill boasts an impressive collection of heritage buildings,
“The number of students using these areas is startling,” says Mr. Adler.
“Where there used to be dozens [of people], we now have hundreds, and
a lot of the downtown community comes over here to eat lunch. It’s been
a huge success.”
perhaps the biggest transformation toward pedestrianization on a
Canadian campus is taking place at the University of Windsor. Still in the
early stages, the first phase of this massive project includes the closure of
Sunset Avenue, a major city street, this summer after local authorities had
finished upgrading a neighbouring thoroughfare.
Lead architect Paul Sapounzi explains that U of Windsor’s new master
plan is exceptional and progressive. Rather than training its focus on the
buildings, which is typical in a master plan, U of Windsor’s focuses on the
spaces that connect them. “It’s all about creating a higher quality of life,”
says Mr. Sapounzi.
The land reclaimed from Sunset will serve as a “pedestrian spine”
for seven distinct, car-free zones. Included will be a waterfront commons
that will showcase the Detroit River, its islands and the campus’s historic
international location, including the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit on
the other side. An area now occupied by a parking lot and four houses –
tentatively called Community Commons Park – will become something of
“The best way to increase productivity in
an organization is to simply take the doors off.
We’re doing that in our own way by getting
rid of the asphalt streets.”