Why isn't UBC preserving the Bosque as it is?
The Bosque is a formal grid of Red Oak trees that was planted in 1968 with the completion of the Student Union Building (now known as the UBC Life Building). It was originally envisioned as a space for relaxation, studying and gatherings. Today, the space is failing at its intention of a green outdoor social space and is often dark, damp and uninviting as well as difficult to walk through in the rainy months. It provides limited ecological, aesthetic and social value.
Given its prime location in the social heart of campus, many members of the campus community want to realize the full aesthetic and social potential of this space while enhancing its ecological value.
Why is a building being constructed in a stand of trees?
Placement of the Arts Student Centre in the Bosque creates an opportunity to revitalize an important outdoor green space in the centre of campus. The Arts Student Centre building is intended to be compact, welcoming and engaging, with a sense of openness around the base to allow for an ongoing visual connection between the surrounding walkways and the Bosque. Social spaces and functions strategically located within the building will also help to aminate the edges and make the new ASC a fitting neighbour. Programming in and around the edge of the building will bring much needed social activity and animation to the space. The building will also be designed as a LEED Gold building and employ bird friendly design strategies.
The location is also well situated between the arts precinct and the AMS Nest, and with its proximity to the UBC Life Building and the Abdul Ladha Science Building, the Arts Student Centre will contribute to the strong presence of UBC’s active student bodies in a section of campus traditionally dedicated to students and student life.
Has the Arts Student Centre siting been approved?
The development of a new Arts Student Centre (ASC) located within the Bosque received the first stage of Board of Governors approval in June 2018. The design of the Bosque will be developed along with the design of the new ASC.
The ASC will provide much-needed informal learning and social space for a large and diverse student population and provide a focal point to advance the mission and goals of the Faculty of Arts and the Arts Undergraduate Society.
Were other building sites considered?
The new Arts Student Centre needs to be located close to Buchanan and the Arts precinct. The Arts Student Centre was originally planned for the open site south of the Brock Hall West Wing. However, through the University Boulevard Area re-visioning process this past winter, UBC staff, the AUS, and AMS concluded that this modest-sized building would be better as an integral part of the Bosque. Locating the ASC in the Bosque will support the revitalization of the Bosque and free up the original site for much-needed large academic building capacity.
What is UBC going to do revitalize the Bosque?
The vision for the Bosque is to enhance the ecology and biodiversity of the area, achieving a higher ecological performance relative to its current condition while also making the space a more functional public space, where people can gather, play and relax as well as stroll through. A number of ideas about how to improve the ecological health of the Bosque and animate the space emerged through several public consultation and engagement processes, including:
- Planting an understory of native plants to diversify the ecology and enhance the aesthetics of the space
- Adding raised walkways, lighting and site furniture to make the space more useable
- Supporting a variety of activities such as slacklining, swings and other recreation in the space
Will UBC replace the trees that will be removed?
UBC encourages tree retention, or relocation to alternative areas of campus, whenever possible. In this case, the trees will not be relocated due to their size. However, we will plant eight trees elsewhere on campus in order to create a net positive impact. The rejuvenation plan for the Bosque includes planting an understory layer of new plantings that will provide food and shelter for birds and create a distinctive landscape experience in a prominent area of campus.
Was the UBC community consulted on this decision?
Between 2014 and the Spring of 2018, there were a number of consultation and engagement processes for the public realm and the University Boulevard Area, which provided community members with the opportunity to share their thoughts on the Bosque and the placement of the Arts Student Centre in this space. Through the most recent consultation process on the University Boulevard Area in Spring 2018, community members expressed concern over the removal of trees and loss of green space on campus. They also expressed support for improving the feel and use of the Bosque through better lighting, pedestrian connections and access, as well as public seating with weather protection. These comments and concerns have been given careful consideration in the siting of the ASC and the draft vision for the Bosque.
What are the next steps?
Feedback from the public consultation on the Bosque Design Vision in combination with further technical work, will be used to refine the project design for revitalizing the Bosque. The design of the Bosque will be developed along with the design of the Arts Student Centre (ASC). The project will proceed through UBC’s standard capital approval process. This includes development permit approvals for the ASC and the Bosque as well as Board of Governors Board 2 and 3 approvals for the ASC. As part of the development permitting process, there will be an opportunity for the public to review the design plans for the ASC and the Bosque revitalization as well as provide feedback.
It is anticipated that construction of the new ASC will begin in summer 2019.
When will the trees be removed?
The trees will be removed when construction of the new ASC begins. Construction is anticipated to start in summer 2019.