Guest Blogger: David Gordon, Director of the School of Urban and Regional Planning

Our final guest blog comes from David Gordon, Director of the School of Urban and Regional Planning and a faculty member on the Campus Master Plan Advisory Committee.  As a key participant in the evolution of the Queen’s campus over the years, David has provided a great summary of what sets the new CMP apart from the past, and some of its highlights. Thanks to David for providing the last blog post!

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What’s new about the new Campus Master Plan?

My first involvement in planning the Queen’s campus was as an undergraduate Senator in 1974. We formed a student club called Project Green to replace the campus trees that had been killed by the Dutch Elm disease. Professor Ned Franks recruited me into the university’s Campus Planning and Development Committee (CPDC), where we commissioned landscape plans for parts of the campus to guide the new tree-planting. In those days, a “campus plan” was simply a large map of the university’s land holdings, and Queen’s had not prepared an overall plan since the 1961 drawing described by Tony Gkotsis in his blog post below [1].

After returning to Kingston as a professor of urban planning in 1994, I rejoined the CPDC, and discovered that Queen’s had just completed one of Canada’s first comprehensive campus plans, prepared by du Toit Allsopp Hillier (DTAH).   This plan was a black and white report, with design principles and demonstration plans for parts of the campus. It shaped the redevelopment of the main campus, guiding buildings such as Stauffer Library, Biosciences, Goodes Hall, the ILC and the School of Medicine. DTAH paid particular attention to the main campus landscapes – designing the new pedestrian lighting system, Tindall Field, the Medical Quad, University Avenue and Professor’s Walk. They also created a new view to the lake from the front door of Victoria Hall by carefully siting Chernoff Hall. The DTAH campus plan was updated in 2003, but was out of date a decade later. A campus master plan mainly deals with the physical design of the university, and the new Queen’s Academic Plan and Research Plans had to be finished first, since they are more important.

We started work on a new campus plan in 2012, with Urban Strategies Inc. selected as the lead consultant. The Campus Master Plan covers much new ground, including the campus’ connections with its surrounding communities, more attention to the West Campus and detailed implementation guidelines.

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CMP cover page

The Campus and the City

Most campus plans just deal with the property owned by a university. The new Queen’s Campus Master Plan is different. The Campus at the City Scale looks at the University’s relationship with its surrounding communities. Queen’s now has multiple campuses embedded in Kingston’s urban fabric, so the university must work with the municipal government to connect these facilities and reduce impacts upon the adjacent neighbourhoods. This chapter considers housing, road design, transit, pedestrian and cycling networks.

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Figure 4-1 “City Initiatives” from the CMP

Better pedestrian and cycling networks will be particularly important in the years ahead and will benefit both the university and the surrounding communities. Students from the School of Urban and Regional Planning have prepared more detailed plans for active transportation in the area.

A Larger Role for West Campus

Previous Queen’s plans have paid little attention to the West Campus, but this oversight has changed. The main campus is nearing capacity and the West Campus presents good opportunities for future growth.

There is much more land available at West Campus, and it is really not that far away from the main campus. Duncan McArthur Hall is about 1600 metres from my office door at Sutherland Hall. I can get there in less than five minutes on my bicycle, or a 15-minute walk – less than the distance across campus at Waterloo, Western and other large Canadian universities. The psychological separation is perhaps larger than the physical separation, and must be addressed by better quality walking, cycling and transit connections.

The new West Campus Master Plan focuses on making the area a 24-hour, mixed-use precinct, with academic use, having athletics and better community facilities. The West Campus plan is as detailed as the main campus, identifying new open spaces, development sites and movement systems. For example, the proposed West Campus Square shown below could include community uses, a transit hub and upper-year housing.

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Proposed West Campus Square at Sir John A. Macdonald Boulevard and Union Street. McArthur Hall is at the right and the former Prison for Women at the left

Guidelines for the Future

The new plan is both a vision statement and a working tool to guide changes. As an urban planner, I particularly appreciate the Campus Master Plan’s design guidelines (Ch. 7) and precinct plans. For example, the Stuart Precinct’s plan proposes Chown Walk – a connection past the University Club to the lake that might complement the similar view from Victoria Hall.

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Stuart Street Precinct plan, showing the proposed Chown Hall Walk to the lake and the walkway and lake view from Victoria Hall created by the 2002 Campus Master Plan

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Computer model of proposed new walk from Chown Hall to the lake

Ideas like these are why we hire first-rate urban design firms to advise the university. A fresh set of highly-skilled eyes can often see things that are not yet present.

These implementation sections will provide detailed guidance for the new Campus Planning Advisory Committee and Queen’s University Planning Committee. The design guidelines are heavily illustrated with images of what to do (i.e. the School of Medicine) and what not to do (Botterell Hall, for example).

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An example of how the new CMP uses precedent imagery to illustrate design guidance

Finally, I encourage everyone to browse through the Campus Master Plan, simply because it is an attractive document. The plan is filled with gorgeous images of the current campus, good examples from other universities and computer simulations of what Queen’s might look like in the future.

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Left over space between Jeffrey Hall, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre and the School of Music

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Proposed Arts Square and Jeffrey Hall redevelopment, keeping the view of Grant Hall Tower

Queen’s has a beautiful campus. There is every reason to believe that if we plan for the future, our campus can continue to be a benefit for its students, staff, faculty and the surrounding communities.

[1] However, Queen’s had a distinguished architect and urban designer, Eric Thrift, in charge of siting new buildings as the University Campus Planner and advisor to CPDC. Thrift’s office was right beside Dr. Bernard Trotter, who headed the Academic Planning office and advised the Senate Committee on Academic Development. CPDC and SCAD members would meet together annually. That’s how academic planning and campus planning were co-ordinated when the university was much smaller and less participatory.

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David Gordon is an urban designer and Director of the School of Urban and Regional Planning. He was a Senate representative on the Campus Planning and Development Committee for over twenty years, and a member of the recent Campus Master Plan Advisory Committee.


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The final CMP is here!

CMP cover

The CMP team is excited to share the final Queen’s Campus Master Plan for download. The plan is a result of 14 months of hard work and collaboration between the CMP team, Queen’s and Kingston staff and stakeholders, and you – the Queen’s students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

The plan can be downloaded on the University’s CMP site here.

The plan is a framework for change that will guide how Queen’s University physically evolves over the next 10 to 15 years. Now that the plan is complete, University planning staff and committee members will be using this document to guide and evaluate new development, open space, and infrastructure projects as they emerge overtime.

Now that the Plan is complete, comments on this blog will soon be closed. You can direct any questions or comments about the Plan (as well as the University planning process) here.

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An Active Transportation Strategy for Queen’s

Six graduate students from Queen’s School of Urban and Regional Planning (SURP) recently completed an Active Transportation Strategy for Queen’s. The report was produced for KFL&A Public Health as part of the SURP Masters of Planning program’s Housing and Human Services Project Course. The report provides recommendations for new infrastructure, policies, and programs that will support active transportation (any form of human-powered transportation such as walking or cycling) as a primary mode of transportation to and from Queen’s.

You can download the report here:

Full Report [5.7 mb]
Executive Summary [917 kb]

Congratulations to Nancy, Keith, Heather, Sarah, Ivy and James on a job well done!

In other CMP news, this blog has been quiet for a while as we’ve been finalizing the CMP. We are in Kingston today to present the final Plan to the Board of Trustees and will be posting it online within a couple of weeks! Be sure to check back here for the link.

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Thanks to all those who attended Open House #2

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Thank you to those who attended the Campus and Community Open House #2 earlier this month at the Biosciences Complex Atrium. We had a great turnout including Queen’s students, faculty, and staff, as well as Kingston residents, City staff, and City Councillors! Attendees were able to view information panels detailing the draft content of the Campus Master Plan, and provide feedback to the CMP team.

Don’t forget that all of the Information Panels can be accessed here, and any comments or questions can be posted on our blog’s discussion thread here

The consultant team will be making final revisions based on feedback we heard at the event as well as feedback received online.

Keep checking back here to find out about when the CMP will be posted online.

Happy holidays from all of us at the CMP team!

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Leave your comments on the Campus & Community Open House #2 Materials!

The CMP team is excited to be sharing our draft Master Plan content this afternoon from 2 – 6 in the Biosciences Complex Atrium. We hope you can come by and let us know what you think about where the plan is headed and how we’ve incorporated your directions and feedback from throughout the study process. 

If you can’t make the event this afternoon… not to worry. You can access all the open house information panels on the Queen’s CMP page here and you can leave your comments on the discussion thread here. The thread will be left up until the project completion and we’ll be reading all your comments as we finalize the document. 

We’re all looking forward to hearing your thoughts. 

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Event Notice: Campus and Community Open House #2

Campus and Community Open House #2
December 6, 2013
Biosciences Complex
116 Barrie Street
Drop in anytime between 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

After months of in-depth study and extensive consultation, the draft content of the Campus Master Plan (CMP) will be presented to the Queen’s and Kingston communities at the Campus and Community Open House #2 on Friday, Dec. 6.

Drop by anytime between 2 and 6 pm to meet with the project team, learn more about the plan content, and provide your input. Can’t make the event? Don’t worry. All materials will be posted on the Queen’s CMP website. You can provide your comments on the discussion threads here on the blog.

You can read more about the event here and discuss the plan on Twitter using the #planyourcampus hashtag.

The project team is looking forward to seeing you there!

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Guest Blog: Filza Naveed, Communications Coordinator of Kingston Alumni Branch, Queen’s University and M.A Candidate for Cultural Studies

Through our consultation to date, it is clear to the CMP team that Queen’s benefits from being located centrally within Kingston — close to downtown, Princess Street, and the waterfront. However, Kingston has many more neighbourhoods than just those near Main and West Campus. But the ease and ability to get to and from these further parts of Kingston has impacts on where students and faculty choose to locate, how they experience the City, and services needed on campus. For this month’s guest blog, Filza Naveed (ArtsSci ’13 and MA’15) provides a greatly informative post on how new improvements at Kingston Transit will impact Queen’s students, and provide new opportunities to explore the rest of Kingston. 

“Kingston Transit (KT) has unveiled an ambitious new transit plan that will revamp its bus routes and hopefully will better serve local commuters — Queen’s students, faculty, and staff included. Phase One of the plan, to be rolled out in September, will see the introduction of a direct, high-frequency commuter service from the city’s west end to the downtown and campus. Phase Two, to be implemented in mid-2015, will add two more express routes.

Tricolour students.I have been studying at Queen’s University since the past four years, and I’m now starting my Masters here as well. I still remember how thrilled I was to find out in my first year that the university’s student government has an agreement with Kingston Transit that allows all students to have unlimited transit access, as the payment is collected as part of the student fees. However, during my last four years at Queen’s, I have had a number of unfortunate experiences with Kingston Transit that led me to believe that it was a highly unreliable and inefficient system.

My biggest grievance with KT was the issue of cascading delays that arises. What happened most of the time was that whenever I would be waiting for the bus at Queen’s to take me to the mall, it would often reach full capacity during peak travel times, and the operator would have no choice but to leave my friends and I to wait for the next bus.

The fact that the transit system operated on a thirty minute frequency was an even greater deterrent that forced my friends and I to cab if we were late for a meeting on campus. A daytime frequency of thirty minutes can be a great inconvenience for many Queen’s students, faculty and staff. When I was writing an article on the Kingston Transit for the Queen’s Alumni Review Magazine, I interviewed several students at Queen’s who complained that the thirty minute frequency period on which KT operates discourages them to take the bus. This is because if you miss a transfer, you have to wait for an additional thirty minutes for the next bus.

I must say I was thrilled to hear about the transit’s redevelopment plan that is looking to improve the efficiency of the system.  The redevelopment plan includes the introduction of three new express bus routes that will operate on a fifteen minute frequency during peak times, a revamping of the existing bus routes to increase reliability, and significant new investment in technology and infrastructure. Beginning on Tuesday, September 3, Kingston Transit will launch its new Express Service that will make commuting from the west end to downtown Kingston much easier.

This new limited-stop express route, the first of three to be rolled out as part of Kingston Transit’s Redevelopment Plan, provides more options for Queen’s students, faculty and staff to ride the bus. Kingston Express will operate seven days a week except on selected holidays. Travel time from the west end to the downtown area will be reduced up to half of the normal trip – offering fifteen minute service during peak times; and thirty minutes during non-peak times.

This is extremely refreshing news for most Queen’s students who can now choose to live away from campus and get cheaper accommodation because they can now rely on the bus to take them to campus. Most students are thrilled to hear that weekend trips to the mall will now be more convenient and that it will take only fifteen minutes to get to the Cataraqui Centre as opposed to thirty minutes, saving valuable study time. The time to commute to the mall by bus is now the same as that by car due to fewer stops along the way.

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There is no extra charge for this premium service and riders can transfer between the express and regular routes at any point where both types of routes connect.

Kingston Express service route will travel from the Cataraqui Centre along Princess Street to the Downtown Transfer Point, along Bagot Street to Stuart Street to Queen’s University/Kingston General Hospital, continue along King Street to St. Lawrence College, travel along Front Road servicing the new Park & Ride at Centre 70 Arena, continue along Henderson Boulevard, then Bayridge Drive and back to the Cataraqui Centre. The express route #502 will do the reverse trip.

I am relieved to find out that the redevelopment plan shall finally be launched in September and I am now actually looking forward to taking the bus. My friends and I are thinking of exploring some places away from downtown now, as this offers us a unique chance to explore Kingston areas that are further away from campus!”

filza_naveedFilza Naveed is the Communications Coordinator of Kingston Alumni Branch, Queen’s University and an M.A Candidate for Cultural Studies at Queen’s. She writes for the Queen’s Alumni Review Magazine and the Kingston Whig Standard. A freelance writer and blogger, she is passionate about the intersection of culture and politics. She writes about art, culture, movies, society, media, politics, women’s issues and poetry. Follow her on twitter @FilzaNaveed, and check out her blog at filzanaveed.blogspot.ca

Do you think the Kingston Transit Improvements will change how you experience the campus and the City? Do you think there are other sorts of transportation or connection improvements that could benefit the Queen’s Experience? Let us know in the comments below or share your thoughts on twitter with the hashtag #planyourcampus.

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