Urban campus: prairie landscape

July 19, 2011

One might not think that an urban university campus would be a pioneer in landscape design, but MacEwan’s City Centre Campus is just that. With the implementation of its naturalization project a few years ago, the university became the first institution in Edmonton to take a more natural approach in landscaping.

“This project ties back to our sustainability initiatives,” explains Craig Janke, the university’s maintenance coordinator. “Once established, these areas should require less maintenance and less watering.”

Reverting back to nature

Natural landscape with pedwayDoug Carlyle of Carlyle + Associates, was the landscape architect who worked with Facilities staff at MacEwan to come up with the naturalization plan. He explains that by choosing the right plant life, MacEwan is doing more than just reducing the amount of maintenance required.

“By using grasses, trees and flowers indigenous to the area, we can create a setting that is more in keeping with the region the university lies in.”

Aspen parkland along 109 Street

Two areas are currently reverting back to natural landscapes. The first is along 109 Street on the west side of the Christenson Family Centre for Sport and Wellness. The area will revert to a natural Aspen parkland landscape with plantings of Scotch pines, trembling aspens, snowberry bushes and Prairie Princess roses.

“The trees and shrubs in this area were planted in rows with the idea that over time, they will start to sucker and take over the remaining turf,” explains Douglas. Take a walk on the wild side with this YouTube clip.

Short grass prairie in front of 105 Street building

105 St natural landscapeThe second area, in front of the 105 Street building, contains elements of a short grass prairie landscape with flowers such as Slender Blue Penstemon and wild sage, and short grasses like intermediate oatgrass and Rocky Mountain fescue.

“It was never our intention to replicate the short grass prairie, but rather to create the feel of it,” says Douglas.

Planning for the future

Doug created an open plan landscaping plan for City Center Campus as MacEwan continues to move toward a single sustainable campus.

“The university has been a huge supporter of creative grounds that really do feel like there’s a lot of care and attention given,” he says. “Every year there is some greater commitment to making this campus even better .”

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