Key findings and recomendations which were developed from the planning process include:
- The Core Campus area can comfortably grow by an additional 67,000 gross square metres of academic, support and research space within the 10-minute walking distance. As a point of comparison the combined gross building areas of University Hall and the Centre for the Arts is approximately 68,000 gsm.
- An additional 43,700 gross square metres of research space can be provided, within the Exploration Place research park, but generally beyond the 10 minute walking distance.
- Based on these building expansion areas and utilizing present space utilization rates the campus can comfortably accommodate a campus population of approximately 11,300.
- If growth is anticipated beyond this population level it is likely that a number of development conditions will be required which were considered to be less desirable and/or more expensive. These include buildings taller than 4 floors, extensive use of parking garages and further development of sites within the coulee areas west of University Hall.
- If the annual campus population grows at a rate ranging from 2% to 3%, a reasonable pace of construction could be implemented resulting in a full build out from 23 to 16 years (i.e. if annual growth occurs at a rate of 2% build-out will occur in 23 years; growth at 3% would result in a 16 year build-out period. Note that enrollment grew 3.7% from Fall 2000 to Fall 2001).
- Growth rates in the 4% to 5% range will generally require a new building to come on stream every year and a full build-out of the campus would be achieved in a 12 to 10 year period.
- Growth rates in the 6% to 8% range would result in an extremely condensed construction program, which is likely to see multiple buildings constructed annually and full build-out achieved within 8 to 6 years.
- Expansion of academic buildings in the Core Campus area should be accessible within a 10 minute walking distance between classes, It should be focused on the plateau area in the vicinity of Anderson Hall and include lands currently occupied by the 400-metre track, soccer field and tennis courts.
- A new energy plant is required in the near future to accommodate growth of the University’s academic facilities. Energy Plant #2 should be located near Valley Road in the vicinity of Anderson Hall to take advantage of prevailing winds.
- Buildings are generally recommended to be 3 to 4 floors in height with most academic buildings ranging in size from 8,000 to 10,000 square metres. Buildings of this height and size allow for a steady pace of growth in keeping with anticipated funding increments. Lower building heights would consume valuable land within the 10 minute walking area and result in the displacement of parking. Buildings in the four storey range are compatible with existing buildings on the plateau whereas buildings higher than four levels could detract from the overall campus image of strong horizontal planes as viewed from across the river. Buildings of this scale incorporating appropriate setbacks and weather protective elements such as colonnades and canopies also contribute to a sense of human scale and promote the more active use of sheltered courtyard type outdoor spaces.
- Development beyond the Safe Building Line as defined by the City of Lethbridge should generally be avoided.
- The tennis courts and soccer field presently located east of Anderson Hall should be relocated to the green space between University Drive and the West parking area. Existing vegetation in this area should be preserved to as great an extent as possible and additional planting provided for wind shelter of the field and courts.
- The University Centre (also referred to as the Regional Cultural/ Wellness Centre and includes an athletic Field House possibly combined with Art Gallery) should be sited west of the existing Physical Education building providing direct interior links. This location provides direct parking access that is critical to the function of University Centre as a community resource. A dedicated parking area with approximately 100 stalls for community use should be provided.
- Two preferred locations are identified for the Art Gallery component. The first is the promontory site presently occupied by the tennis courts, which could be developed in association with a University Club and shared dining facilities. The second location is adjacent to the Field House in the West parking lot.
- The future expansion of academic areas in the Sciences should be located in the Valley Road area and north of the proposed Quad. This location is both within the 10 minute walking distance and close to the science research facilities at Exploration Place. Science research and teaching labs should be located in buildings flanking Valley Drive (see buildings C, D and E) to take advantage of prevailing winds. A shared green space (labelled Research Green in the plan) provides an amenity space between the academic campus and Exploration Place and establishes a strong campus identity as part of the entry sequence on Valley Road.
- Large sports fields including the 400-metre track should be located in the south area of the campus.
- A significant green space should be preserved east of Anderson Hall and redefined as a new University Quad providing a central organizing feature of the campus expansion area.
- Additional expansion of the campus, including the Core Campus, Exploration Place and the Aperture Park Residential Village should encourage a pattern of buildings grouped around human-scaled, courtyard-type open spaces, to promote greater use of sheltered outdoor areas on campus.
- Buildings, trees and other structures including colonnades should be strategically placed to provide wind sheltering for pedestrians and favorable microclimate conditions.
- The determination of parking requirements was based on utilization rates of 0.3 stalls per person, which is consistent with similar campus contexts in Canada. It should be noted that reductions in parking demand will translate to less land area consumed for parking. In turn, this may provide a greater land area for additional academic building area close to the core campus while increasing the University’s ability to support a larger campus population. As a means of easing the current demand for parking the University should proactively promote higher utilization of transit and more on-campus housing.
- Expansion of surface parking areas and replacement parking for areas displaced by new buildings should be located primarily north of Valley Road. Disruption of existing landscaped areas south of Valley Road should be minimized.
- Structured parking below new buildings should be considered in locations closest to the Centre for the Arts and University Hall (buildings B & C).
- If present parking demand rates continue a parking structure located close to the Valley Road/ University Drive entrance should be considered as the campus reaches its ultimate size. The ground floor of the structure should provide active uses such as office or retail facing Valley Road.
- The experience of entering the campus should be improved to convey a positive image of the University. The realignment and redesign of Valley Road - the most heavily used access point to both the University and Exploration Place – should emphasize views of feature campus areas, entrances and landscapes.
- A continuous north-south road link should be provided to facilitate internal campus service and security mobility and to promote quick distribution of traffic to parking areas.
- The dominant presence of surface parking that presently exists should be mitigated through new road alignments, building placement, and tree planting and landscaping within parking lots and aisle ends.
- Open space promontories at the valley edge which provide sweeping views of the Oldman River should be preserved as “sacred sites” available for public access and, in special circumstances, buildings of a highly public nature. Pedestrian and vehicular circulation routes and the placement of buildings should reinforce view corridors to these sites.
- A program of art installations, landscape features and earth works exploring themes of regional culture, available for public viewing, should be provided at each of these promontory sites.
- Existing trees and vegetation should be preserved and enhanced wherever possible. Approximate locations of vegetation have been mapped as part of this study. Accurate mapping and inventory of vegetation should be undertaken as a priority task prior to the detailed design of new projects.
- Storm water drainage from parking areas and rooftops should be channeled to a series of new storm water quantity/ quality ponds to improve water quality and reduce valley erosion. These ponds should be designed as feature amenity areas.
- New buildings on campus should be environmentally responsible and should be designed in accordance with the National Energy Code for Buildings. The budgeting process for new projects should recognize lifecycle costs of building structures and factor minimized future operating costs in the review of initial capital costs.
- New buildings should contribute to the tradition of architectural innovation and excellence which the University is known for. Building design should utilize an architectural vocabulary that complements existing buildings utilizing materials such as light coloured precast concrete, natural and manufactured stone.