University of Regina Garden and Art Tour

I Must confess that the above picture of The Terrace’s garden was not taken during Jane’s Walk Weekend.   The proceeding pictures will not be from May first either.  I was fortunate enough to attend a similarly themed walk last summer from the same guide, Hilary Craig. 

I was only able to attend about an hour of Hilary’s Jane’s Walk version of the University of Regina garden and art tour.  With only a partial walk under my belt, I’m sure I missed some interesting discussion. 

The walk took place at the University of Regina campus along Wascana Parkway in South Regina.  The tour started at the South end of the campus at the Terrace Building along Research Dr.  The group moved North through the main campus buildings and then on to the First Nations University of Canada (FNUC).  Walking West between Wascana Creek and the University, the tour concluded on the second tier podium level and back inside into the Riddell Centre.

 Looking at last year’s picture of the Terrace, it is striking what a good example of an outdoor room (as I discussed in my last post ) the garden makes.  The Terrace’s outdoor garden is a very formal, inclosed space that balances access with having, like most rooms, four walls that help define it.  To me it seems like a great space, somewhere to wander away from a cocktail party.  It balances privacy and openness, separation from the Terrace building and connection.

Another success in the research park area are the de-emphasized (hidden) parking lots.  Many of the lots around the research park buildings feature walls and flora to soften their presence.  Parking lots are also usually on the opposite side of the street face of buildings, specifically roads like Research Dr. and Wascana Parkway.  Many other parking lots around the campus (it is a driving campus with many parking lots) are far more glaring and prominent.

Hilary was quite positive about the internal walking circuit that connects the various university campus buildings.  One of her favourite places is the glass connection between the Riddell Centre and Education Building.  This space is a large square with high glass walls that allow in lots of light.  The atrium like connector allows access to the Lloyd Barber Green from the south and also features many warm weather potted plants.

Hilary explained how she uses the internal circuit in winter as a climatically comfortable and visually interesting walking route.  She can easily take her grand-daughter in a stroller through the many buildings.  

Our guide enjoys this so much she proposed it should be featured in more Regina spaces.  Her example was downtown, where only the East side of the Scarth Street Mall has an internal walking passage of the same kind as the U of R.  The best U of R example of this type of passage would be the main floor concourse of the twin residence towers.

We worked our way through the university East towards the FNUC building.  The building, by Douglas Cardinal, is one of my favourite new buildings in Regina.  I like the flowing walls that come into a central glass tipi like shape, which on the inside creates a large, bright open area.  The building has a successful organic look to it and also incorporates terraces, which I am fond of.

Along the West side of the FNUC building are prairie gardens with interpretive signage placed among the different plants.  As the picture on the right suggests, natural prairie spaces are full of colour in summer and much more interesting than a lawn.  There are not a lot of natural prairie gardens in the city and probably none as large as FNUC’s.  I always feel like I’m in a time capsule when I’m standing in a native prairie garden, large or small.  I can’t help but connect to that spot 200 years in the past and wonder if it looked any different?     

There are some large pieces of art between the University and the Creek, near the multi-use pathway.  Joe Fafard’s ‘Mind’s Garden’ is the most prominent.  Fafard’s art work is in an interesting transitional area where park goers and university folks both have access.  It isn’t, however, in a high traffic zone rather it is set off by itself.  In four and a half years of university I can’t remember going over to look at ‘Mind’s Garden’ once.   I feel it’s not in an inviting space, regardless of that, if it is indeed the case, you should go and see it for yourself.  Better yet, see it with a group; bring a blanket, some food and stay awhile.

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University of Regina Garden and Art Tour

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