Library Garden to be redesigned

Watch out UBC, more construction is coming your way.

The university is putting together a proposal to redesign Library Garden as a part of UBC’s Public Realm Plan. The initiative was approved in 2009 and allots $46 million for the redesign of campus public outdoor spaces.

Campus and Community Planning has launched a consultation process to seek input from those on campus as to what they would like to see from the garden, located between Koerner and the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.

Through a series of open houses and two “co-discovery workshops,” the university has brought together the Building Working Committee, Landscape Working Committee, Planning Advisory, the AMS, GMS and several other stakeholders to give their opinions on the proposal.

“There are so many different perspectives and ideas,” said Consultation Senior Manager Gabriella Armstrong. “It’s got so much potential and opportunity to be a number of different things for different groups and so we’re just looking forward to hearing what everybody’s ideas are.” 

Campus Landscape Architect Dean Gregory is in charge of the implementation of the landscape vision laid out in the Public Realm Plan.

“Long after you finish your studies, you forget about the classes, you know?” Gregory said. “You remember the friends you made, the places you hung out in, the landscape [and] what the place felt like. So that’s our challenge today.”

So what is Gregory’s overall vision for the project?  

“I want to see this very central, important piece of campus knit back into the fabric of the campus.”

The garden will also be home to a 5000 square foot Indian Residential Schools History and Dialogue Centre.

Gregory said he would like to acknowledge the area’s rich Musqueam history while also paying tribute to the designs of the university’s first landscape artist who designed the grounds back in 1927. “I’m really aware that there’s a big story to tell here and I am very excited about that,” he said. 

He would also like to maintain the axial-visual relationship between the two libraries. “It gives dignity when you have a strong axis focused on something of importance. You feel it. It’s a little bit like Paris or the mall in Washington DC. We don’t have the Washington monument, but we have the Martha Piper fountain.”

He does not want to introduce formality. Instead, he sees “erosion, breakdown [and a] more naturalistic, relationship with building — human scaled spaces."

"It’s done in a very intentional way which says, ‘We thought about this.’ It’s not just something that looks nice, but it actually tells a deeper story,” he said. In short, “It’s our central park.”

Proposed designs will be put forward to the UBC Board of Governors in spring of 2016.

Members of the public can submit their feedback on the proposal online until October 12 or at the open house on Thursday October 8, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre.