University Square Being Redeveloped

14 August 2018

University Square, the prominent garden and thoroughfare, located between Grattan Street and the Law School, is currently in the process of being redeveloped in an association between the University, the City of Melbourne, and the Victorian Government.

“The University supports the City [of Melbourne] in its approach to increasing and improving the quality of public open space,” a University spokesperson said. The City of Melbourne has previously described the project as “creating a 21st century park”.

At this stage in the construction, most of University Square has been made inaccessible—causing disruption to surrounding areas. Most recently, pedestrians have had additional difficulty accessing Graduate House and the Melbourne Business School, with Leicester Street seeing significant reductions in usability.

Despite these disruptions, there remains a degree of positivity about the proposed update to the area.

The park, once described by Architecture AU as “hostile and forbidding”, will see a number of changes. These include more accessible park space and increased tree cover in order to “create a new open-space hub that better serves the local community”, according to the master plan document.

This document also considers environmental concerns, mentioning the capture of stormwater for reuse and solar energy generation. The old English elm trees will be replaced with 250 new, mostly native, trees.

The Law Students’ Society directed us towards a De Minimis article that indicated that while there will be some short-term disruption to convenience, the benefits will outweigh these.

However, there are some who question whether now is the most appropriate time for this redevelopment to take place. Combined with the ongoing works to establish the Grattan Street underground train station, the southern region of campus has been significantly disrupted.

“The construction there is like the Hogwarts staircases: it rearranges itself all the time,” said Mark Yin, a second-year Arts student.

“I’ve faced huge delays to arriving to class on time, especially having to go around Uni Square or around Alan Gilbert.”

These delays have been exacerbated in recent weeks by the spate of bad weather, with water collecting in many places and drainage impeded to a degree. This, combined with the longer route that many are having to take to class, has caused a number of bedraggled students.

“The City of Melbourne … following extensive consultation with the University, have staged the works to ensure there is still accessibility for students and staff through the precinct,” the University spokesperson stated.

However, those in charge of the project maintain that any inconvenience will be worth it at the conclusion of the project.

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