The landscape architecture of the University of Guelph’s football stadium is a homecoming for Doug and Adam Taylor, and James Savoie.
Their company, Frontiers Landscape Architecture, was awarded the $2.5 million contract to redevelop the grounds surrounding the stadium. Before entering the landscaping field, Taylor studied landscape architecture at the university. While Savoie also studied at the school, he was also captain of the Gryphons, the university’s football team.
“It’s fantastic. You couldn’t be any more emotionally involved in a project, or have more pride for a project, than coming back to the university where you got your education,” Doug said.
Adam agreed it’s great to be able to return to campus as a graduate.
“This project has given us a chance to give back to a campus and community that has given so much to us,” Adam said.
The project is also privately funded by Stu Lang, the football team’s former head coach.
“He developed the football program here. They’re a very generous family,”Doug said.
Frontiers Landscape Architecture was hired in fall of 2016 to design, and eventually construct, the more than 10,500 square metre site that wraps around the stadium.
“We went through conceptual designs for months,”Doug said. “It’s a very narrow space, which provides challenges in itself.”
The final design would aim to bring elements of the football field outside of the stadium. Using black and white interlocking brick, the yardage lines of the football field were brought outside of the stadium into the landscaping project.
“It mimics the structure of the field. It’s more or less a stone football field in a way,” Doug said.
Brick on brick pathway arches were also created to influence foot traffic to move fans from one end of the stadium to the other.
“It’s a contemporary linear look. The arches we put through the space flow from one end to the other,” Taylor said. “It’s a wayfinding technique to draw people through the space.”
Champion’s Corner, the main area of the outdoor space at the north end of the stadium, features a concrete stage for events and the Wall of Champions, where bronze plaques for athletic national award winners are displayed.
Frontiers Landscape Architecture also included a miniature replica football field to host youth events.
With about 8,500 people attending Gryphon games, Doug said they opted for durable, artificial turf for the soft areas of the design, like the mini field.
“It’s a maintenance issue. You don’t have to cut it and it looks good,” Doug said.
Equipment on site
The area in development was previously filled with debris and topsoil creating soft ground that required Frontiers to subcontract Drexler Construction to excavate the property. What would typically be a 2 metre dig, required Drexler to excavate as deep as five metres. The ground was backfilled with lean concrete.
With more than 8,500 square metres of interlocking brick required for the project, Frontiers brought in their Kubota R520 loader.
“It’s essentially onsite just to shuttle around the 460 skids of pavers,” Doug said.
For fine-tuning of grading, the crew used an ASV RS-60 skid steer. They also built their own screed system using metal bars placed in the granular base, and then set with levels. Then, they used a Ditch Witch SK755 mini skid steer to pull a rail across the metal bars to level 4.5 square metre sections.
“Two or three guys can pull it, but it’s easier to hook it up to the machine,” Doug said.
The majority of the project was completed by the end of October with final touches, like light standards being delivered and installed by the end of the year.