Development plans for the University of Calgary West Campus are finally underway.
After a selection process which began in September, the university chose world-renowned Sasaki Associates for the task of master planner. Sasaki Associates is a multidisciplinary firm that boasts a client list of over 100 educational institutions from all over North America, Asia and the Middle East.
"Sasaki has done impressive work for a number of universities," said U of C vice-president academic Dr. Alan Harrison. "We are confident they will do the same for us."
The 80-hectare West Campus was given to the university by the province in 1995 and for the most part remains undeveloped except for the Alberta Children's Hospital, the Ronald McDonald House and the Early Childhood Development Centre, which is to be completed by spring 2007.
Although nothing specific is confirmed, the main goal of the West Campus is to generate a strong sense of community by building a university village, said Harrison.
This will include commercial, retail and residential buildings.
"We are looking to develop a sort of mixed community and affordable housing is critical to this," said Harrison. "The housing market is tough in Calgary right now and we will do anything we can to help students out."
The development of the West Campus will emphasize sustainable development. It will follow guidelines developed by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating, a system developed to create consistent and realistic standards for environmentally-friendly buildings.
Sasaki Associates has a number of LEED professionals, showing their dedication to environmentally-responsible design, said Harrison.
Despite the recent hire of Sasaki, Harrison said plans for West Campus buildings will not be finalized any time soon.
"We need to wait and see what Sasaki Associates proposes," said Harrison. "We will see if it is financially viable and make decisions from there."