In an effort to prioritize people over cars on its busy downtown campus, the University of Toronto unveiled four competing designs for a major architectural project.

The effort to reclaim the central King’s College Circle from tour buses and delivery vans — and to “decant” it of parked cars, which is architecture speak for building underground parking — is likely to take years and cost millions. But the need is dire, university officials said at a public consultation Monday night.

At its worst, King’s College Circle — which is roughly the same size as the more inviting provincial legislature grounds to the east — is a big round parking lot around a field that alternates between muddy and parched, overrun by tour buses and delivery trucks. As one design team put it, the circle, “cluttered with traffic and parked cars, fails to engage the historic architecture at its edges and compromises the generous green within.”

All four new designs, however, part of the Landscape of Landmark Quality design competition, imagine it as a green space that not only serves as an appropriate venue for the annual ceremonies of convocation, but during the other months of the year reflects the central campus’s role as a major pedestrian and leisure hub for the surrounding city.

Read more in the National Post.

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