artist's rendering of the new pedestrian area to be installed in front of Convocation Hall, where tourists often gather to take photos of King's College Circle and the green lawn known as Front Campus

Pedestrian-friendly zone: practical and playful installation aims to improve safety around Convocation Hall

Haters of heavy machinery take heart: The bulldozers and backhoes doing their thing in front of Convocation Hall will be gone by the start of classes, leaving a pedestrian-friendly surface in their place.

Adorned with a playful array of dots in U of T blue-and-white, the surface is intended both to beautify this open area and create a defined walkway in a problematic space, according to Anne Macdonald, director of ancillary services.

“There was no coherent intersection there,” Macdonald said of the area, which for decades has been the setting for a daily rodeo of pedestrians, cyclists, cars, tour buses and service vehicles. 

“Fortunately, there have been no accidents, but if you ask users how they feel about crossing there, most would say they’re looking over their shoulders the whole time.” 

Developed by U of T's campus and facilities planning division with Lea Consultants, the new surface respects the rounded façade of Convocation Hall by curving gently at the corners. The pedestrian area will be further defined by bollards – short posts – around the perimeter. 

The dots are intended to echo to the shape of Convocation Hall and King’s College Circle. “There are lots of circular elements,” Macdonald said of the design.

The new intersection includes two striped “zebra” pedestrian crossings, one aligned east-west where King’s College Road meets King’s College Circle, and the other aligned north-south across Galbraith Road. The east-west crossing will come with a new stop sign.  (Below: artist's rendering showing zebra crossings and traffic markings.)

Another improvement is a slope connecting the pedestrian area to the sidewalk in front of Simcoe Hall, which formerly stopped abruptly at the road pavement.

Macdonald stressed that the surface is an interim measure that will not interfere with the work of the Landmark Committee on a more comprehensive vision of the front campus. 

The Landmark Committee Project Planning Report of last year explicitly identifies the removal of surface parking from King’s College Circle as one of the principles guiding planning for the St. George campus. The committee has solicited proposals from four competitive teams of urban designers and landscape architects on how to enhance the historical centre of the St. George campus.

(Read more about transforming the downtown campus into a more pedestrian-friendly and welcoming environment.)

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