Augustana takes steps toward growth goals
University of Alberta’s Ben Louie (middle) talks to interested Camrosians about the proposed plans for the University of Alberta-Augustana’s long-term plans at an open house in Camrose on Nov. 29. Josh Aldrich/ Camrose Canadian
The University of Alberta-Augustana’s vision of a campus that is home to 1,600-2,000 students is starting to take shape.
The latest draft of a new long-term development plan was unveiled at an open house on Nov. 29 at the university. It is an integrated plan looks at all aspects of student life from parking to green space to how the school can work with the design and challenges of the neighbourhood and city. The plan takes into consideration all aspects of student life, not just bricks and mortar.
“It’s a vision of not what will be built but how life will be organized in terms of space and campus rhythm as the university continues to grow,” said Dean Allen Berger.
This is the second open house the school has held revolving around the future plans for Augustana, the first one occurred on Sept. 28. This public information session was an effort to respond to concerns and feedback from the first meeting.
“There are a number of issues, but I think it calls for us not treating it as a one off – this is what we think, give us your opinions, that’s the end,” said University of Alberta architect Ben Louie. “We actually come back and say ‘We think we heard you say this, this is what we think are the clarifications, let’s do a bit more of this engagement and so on.’”
Parking was one of the major concerns raised by the neighbourhood. With limited space to work with and the hopes of increasing enrollment by as much as 80 per cent, there will be a larger demand for parking and transportation services.
The plan calls for meeting this challenge on a number of different fronts. The university will work with the City of Camrose on any public transportation initiatives that are taken on, while also examining other options like their current ride-sharing program called Pogo.
For parking, instead of building more surface parking in their limited space, they will use their uneven topography and integrate more of it into building design.
“We don’t have the amount of land that would allow us to build lots of surface level parking, but the planners have creatively helped us think about how we can integrate additional parking with new facilities as enrolment grows,” said Berger.
At the centre of the long-term plan is the ravine that cuts along the southern half of the campus. Currently it is purely a nature feature and there is not much integration of the ravine in the design. But this is where the campus plans to gain ground for expansion. The plan calls for a cluster of residential buildings on the south side of the ravine, across from where the majority of the campus is currently located. This would be connected by paths that will go around the ravine, which would also be a major source of recreation and connecting with the natural area. The plan also calls for a cluster of academic facilities for the north side of the ravine.
All told, there is 71 per cent of open, uncovered space on plan, far out stripping the requirement of at least 50 per cent. Not all of this open area is green, some of it is parking, some of it is paths and some of it is road ways.
Currently, 50 per cent of the student body lives on campus, a number Berger would like to see increased to 60 per cent in the long term. That open space will play a critical role in the overall level of quality of life on campus.
“When you’re a residential campus, you’re talking about not just a place where students go to attend class, you’re talking about a place where students live, where students look for recreational opportunities, both indoors and outdoors, where students go outside to enjoy the natural world,” said Berger. “We want to be a green campus so it’s important that we preserve open spaces.”
The plan also further leans on increasing green and sustainable designs and technologies, a path Augustana has been on for a while.
They have taken care to work closely with the City on their plans with the City currently in the midst of working on their own set of long term plans. It is a step they are not legislated to take but it is an effort to continue to develop the strong relationship between the two partners.
“I think this enhances our working abilities as a community and the university,” said Mayor Norm Mayer. “I think it is beneficial to everyone.”
From this open house a final draft will be constructed on the feedback that will continue to be collected online until Dec. 20 at www.communityrelations.ualberta.ca. The plan will then be brought to the board of governors for approval and they will proceed from there.
“This plan is not so much about what specific buildings do we need,” said Berger. “It is basically about how new academic facilities or new residential facilities are planned in the future, where should they go, what should the traffic flows on campus look like, how should life be organized on the campus.”