Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Faculty of Law’s building project includes exciting plans for the green space at the south end of the site.  In addition to creating wonderful new space for the Faculty of Law, we are also committed to enhancing the beauty of the natural environment in Philosopher’s Walk and the other areas around the new Jackman Law Building.

The architects conceptualized the landscape plan to address four primary challenges:

  • extending the pastoral, tree-dominant landscape of Philosopher’s Walk
  • providing appropriate transitions to a more ornamental landscape in close proximity to the law school buildings
  • adding a colourful landscape in high visibility areas around the Jackman Law Building
  • addressing the extensive Queen’s Park Crescent frontage in an sensitive manner.

The design was developed around the idea of restoration of  “a full native palette of dominant and understory tree species that draw from both the ravine and oak-savannah Carolinian habitats.” The plantings include an array of greenery and floral beds featuring native and recommended species plus new tree plantings to rejuvenate the site with healthy young species.

Next to the Queen’s Park frontage, in key areas extending both NE and SW from the Jackman building, a vibrant palette of native and adapted perennials will present a dramatic, bold landscape for the faculty community and the public to enjoy.  Species such as narcissus and scilla through to echinacea, sedums and grasses will prolong the stunning visuals in a fan of hues from early spring to early winter.  In addition, an upright form of Gingko along Queen’s Park Crescent will provide a tree line with “highly architectural form.  Full-sized, hardy and tough in exposed urban conditions, yet open and uniform, the Gingko will be underplanted with colourful groundcovers.”

Plans include the preservation of as many trees as possible, including the lovely red oak tree southwest of the Laskin Library, rumored to be the inspiration for the University of Toronto crest.  In addition, seven donor trees (including one gifted to the law school in honor of former dean, Professor Emeritus Martin Friedland) have been successfully transplanted to other parts of Philosopher’s Walk. These trees have adapted to their new site and are flourishing.  We will also transplant the hosta and perennial garden currently along the west face of the law library to its new home at the School of Continuing Studies on St. George, as it was determined there was no suitable location for it along Philosopher’s Walk.

Construction access from Hoskin Avenue and Queen’s Park West does require the removal of three mature trees. One is a weed species and the remaining two are ash trees. Ash trees are no longer planted in the City of Toronto, and in fact, the City encourages their removal because of their severe pest problems. Several additional trees will also be removed to make way for the new building, many of which are showing signs of stress and are coming to the end of their natural life, as outlined in the arborist report commissioned by our project manager.  These trees are scheduled for removal at the end of June.

Access to the site also requires the temporary removal of a low wall that forms part of the Bennett Gates.  The wall will be stored for the duration of construction and then reinstalled.

Take a look at the B + H Archictects landscape design here (PDF).