Aside from degree-granting status, one of the things that helps to distinguish a university from a community college is its campus.
And for a university that boasts a popular school of horticulture, it’s particularly important to look the part.
When Kwantlen Polytechnic stepped into the university sphere in 2008, it was evident that work needed to be done on its Langley grounds, said David Davidson, associate dean of the school.
“We wanted the campus to look like a university that has a school of horticulture of quality.”
While the north half of the campus, where the horticulture school is located, is filled with greenhouses and green space — including a turf field where students learn to maintain golf courses and sports fields — the south side of the university’s property “sort of dribbles off into the creek,” said Davidson.
“We want the south campus to catch up with the horticultural side.”
So, about a year ago, landscape architects at van der Zalm and Associates were tasked with creating a design that not only improves the appearance of the Langley campus, but offers opportunities for practical experience for KPU’s horticulture students as well.
The design, presented at an open house at the university last Thursday afternoon, does just that, Davidson said.
Based on consultation with faculty, staff, students and community members, the design places an emphasis on not only outdoor gathering spaces and educational elements, but an overall greening of the campus.
“It’s kind of grey when you drive past — a sea of asphalt,” said Ryan Crago, senior project manager with van der Zalm and Associates.
The campus straddles a section of the Langley Bypass east of Glover Road, with the school of horticulture located on the north side, accessed by a pedestrian overpass.
One of the main design elements of the plan involves the Bypass itself — turning it into a parkway and creating the sense that vehicles are passing through the university rather than by it, Crago explained.
It also calls for the greening of the vast parking lot through the addition of trees. Because this will reduce the number of parking spaces available to students, the project design also recommends the construction of a multi-level parkade with a planted roof.
“Kwantlen wanted the campus landscape to be a learning landscape, and we built that into the plan on both sides,” Crago said.
A demonstration court located near the main campus building would provide an opportunity for horticulture students to get practical experience while helping to improve the overall look of the grounds.
Among the proposals to create functional areas as well as elements that will be useful to faculty, staff and students alike, are a market and events space near the academic core of the campus, walking paths on the north side of the road, as well as a raised boardwalk and wetlands overlook.
The plan also suggests, there could be a small outdoor concert venue adjacent to the music department, recreation fields and courts, rain garden, a bird watching platform at an existing retention pond on the south side of the buildings and patio space outside the new school of nursing.
Since the campus opened nearly 20 years ago not a lot has been done in terms of landscaping, and so Davidson would be happy to see significant progress made over the next four or five years.
“It’s important that we be fairly aggressive in pursuing full implementation, but we’re going to have to be ingenious about how we get the money together,” he said, acknowledging it will be a costly enterprise.
At the same time, Davidson said, there has to be a solid plan in place. While setting priorities will be up to a landscape committee, which Davidson anticipates will be struck soon, he is hopeful it will be a systematic process.
“My preference is going after it in an organized way, rather than cherry picking different areas and ending up with a haphazard result,” he said. “That would be a wasted effort.”