Coming this fall to U of T Scarborough is a new, vibrant outdoor space for students, staff and faculty to unwind, connect and recharge.
The ARC Quad, located beside the main entrance of the Academic Resource Centre building, will be ready for use at the end of October after undergoing a revitalization that prioritizes accessibility, green space and functionality.
“The vision for this started as a place to hang out, for light work outside of meetings and to extend opportunities into the spring and the fall to be outdoors,” says Jennifer Adams Peffer, campus architect and director of architecture, planning and project development at U of T Scarborough.
The updated ARC Quad will feature new bench seating, outlets to recharge electronics and shade sails to protect visitors from the sun or rain. Some other additions include outlets for food trucks, improved wifi access and lighting. The site will not just be a hub to stop by between classes, but also has the infrastructure to host planned events like musical performances and lectures.
Notably, the revitalization of the space was constructed with a permaculture approach, which integrates guilds (or groups) of plants that support abundant natural ecosystems. The project is a pilot site under the Landscape and Public Realm Master Plan, established to guide future redevelopment and sustainable landscapes on campus.
The accumulation of so many ideas will result in a space for our community to be together again.
The ARC Quad's landscaping was informed by consultation with Scarborough’s Indigenous community and elders about plants native to the area. Input was also gathered from faculty across disciplines such as the environmental and biological sciences, historical-cultural studies and urban geography. Its make-over is designed by DTAH, a multidisciplinary landscape and urban design firm based in Toronto.
“We’re looking to create a space for UTSC that is recognizable, that follows our strategic plan and looks to build on our learning environment,” Adams Peffer says.
“The space was informed by a host of folks who are interested in our landscape and using our campus as a laboratory for learning. This is a demonstration of bigger ideas and will be a fantastic space to enjoy.”
As the campus grows with new facilities and research centres, blending its legacy architecture with the new, while honouring U of T Scarborough’s location near nature and valley lands, play a part in making the commute between classes and buildings a seamless one.
“We know that the spaces between buildings are so critical. These are the spaces that we walk through every day, and as our campus grows, public infrastructure becomes more and more important,” Adams Peffer says.
After more than a year of virtual learning and meetings, Adams Peffer notes that the development of outdoor spaces for the campus community to safely gather informed the new ARC Quad space and will be the focus of future projects.
“What we missed being off-campus during the pandemic is community, colleagues and getting together,” Adams Peffer says. “The accumulation of so many ideas will result in a space for our community to be together again.”