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Ground-level connections at the University of Regina

Nearly 100 percent of main campus buildings connected by enclosed walkways
University Business, May 2015
Let there be light—and trees and plants: The walkway connecting University of Regina’s Riddell Centre, which contains the student union and the main food service hub, and the Education Building, home to four academic programs, is an inviting space with plenty of daylighting.
Let there be light—and trees and plants: The walkway connecting University of Regina’s Riddell Centre, which contains the student union and the main food service hub, and the Education Building, home to four academic programs, is an inviting space with plenty of daylighting.

A brighter alternative to the pedestrian tunnel is a ground-level enclosed pedestrian street. It’s a concept that the University of Regina in Saskatchewan has taken to the extreme.

Nearly 100 percent of the main campus buildings are connected by these walkways, which form a figure-8-like loop.

“I think we have probably the most planned campus of any campus in the world,” says Dave Button, vice president for administration. It’s part of a large urban park, which is a partnership between the university, the city and the province that began in the 1960s and requires master planning every five years.

The first campus facilities were built with second-floor connections. Through the decades, as more buildings opened, officials linked them. The at-grade pedway system planning began in the mid-1990s, with the interior loop completed in 2004.

The weather—with winter temperatures reaching minus 40 and summer temps topping 100—is just one reason enclosed walkways work well for the school. One analysis estimated 10,000 door openings per day on campus. The significant decrease in pedestrians opening outside doors led to big-time energy savings. It didn’t take long after the system was built for officials to realize utility bills “were just dropping like a rock,” Button says.

Twenty years after the connections were finished, the cost per square foot is still the same, even though utilities have probably gone up in price by 400 percent during that time, he adds.

The network also has lockers so pedestrians can store their coats—enough in the loop for every student.

The student class-to-class rush is also eased by the pedways. One need not consider classroom geography when registering for classes, since it takes no longer than 10 minutes to get from one part of campus to another.

To make getting around easier for new students, each building has a map of the system as well as its own unique color scheme.

As for security measures, the hundreds of doors from the exterior get locked at 11 p.m., but anyone with an ID can stay within the complex 24 hours a day, Button says.

If there’s a negative in the system, it’s the lack of “back doors,” Button says. Both the campus and street sides of each building serve as a front door—so officials must take care to ensure every building looks good from all angles.

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