My favourite path in Vancouver takes a mere quarter of a minute to walk. It’s made of 16 evenly-spaced smooth concrete slabs that snake between overgrown green rushes. When I reach the path I’m normally hurrying between Point A and Point B, but my pace always slows as soon as I step on the first rectangle.
The welcome and reflective pause the path adds to my day is the work of Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg, the planning, urban design and landscape architecture firm that renewed the Courtyards of the Buchanan Faculty of Arts Buildings on the UBC Point Grey campus. The new courtyards opened in May 2011. The path I like belongs to the East Courtyard, a space designed for “quiet contemplation,” according to UBC Project Services.
Last week I took a course in the Buchanan complex and spent most of my breaks in the courtyards, which made me fully appreciate how my preferred path fits into the overall design. Together, the path, reflecting pond, arts pavilion, rushes and grasses, covered seating, and rotating benches form a remarkable space on campus.
Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg is working on other landscape design projects at UBC and I look forward to seeing the end results of these given the success of the firm’s award-winning Buchanan Courtyards.