Planning student uncovers nearly 100 years of campus plans

Planning student uncovers nearly 100 years of campus plans

April 11, 2013


Tony Gkotsis (MPL'13) blogs about his research and involvement in the Campus Master plan.

Tony Gkotsis (MPL’13) sees the university’s history all around us. To him, our buildings and spaces are expressions of Queen’s longstanding identity.

But the campus we know today did not happen solely by accident. Its development has been shaped by nearly 100 years of planning.

Mr. Gkotsis, who will complete his Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MPL) at Queen’s School of Urban and Regional Planning (SURP) this year, has delved deeply into the university's archives and uncovered campus plans and historic images dating back to the 1920s. He shares the insight from this research as this month’s Campus Master Plan (CMP) guest blogger.

“Each campus plan is a product of its time, of the best practices of the day, and a reflection of the challenges the university was dealing with,” says Mr. Gkotsis. "But as we look across the decades, we see that many of those issues persist, just in a different form or on a different scale."

As an example, Mr. Gkotsis points to the desire, as Richardson Stadium was being constructed in the 1920s, to integrate the west campus. Of course, in 1920 the west campus was the area between University Avenue and Alfred Street, and the original Richardson Stadium was built on what is now Tindall field, across from Goodes Hall.

"Issues may change, but campus planning will always be about preserving and creating great spaces in which to learn and live," says Mr. Gkotsis. "A plan is a collective statement by the community of what they value and how they want to see their physical spaces develop over the years to come."

Raised in Kingston, Mr. Gkotsis trained in hospitality management in Ottawa, and went on to start his own business in Sherbrooke, QC before undertaking a degree in environmental studies and geography at Bishop's University.

Now back in Kingston and pursuing his MPL, Mr. Gkotsis is studying secondary plans – plans which apply to a specific part of a larger community – examining whether the City of Kingston’s plan for the Cataraqui North community was implemented as expected, and whether it achieved its goals.

Mr. Gkotsis is also the graduate student representative on the CMP advisory committee and a member of the project team, which works directly with the university’s planning partners to carry out the CMP process.

“It’s a rare opportunity for a planning student to work directly on such an important project,” says Mr. Gkotsis. “The CMP is like a secondary plan, in the sense that it integrates with the City of Kingston as a whole, so my research and practical experience have really come together thanks to the opportunities provided by Queen’s, the SURP and the Society of Graduate and Professional Students.”

Read Mr. Gkotsis’s CMP blog here, and visit the CMP website to follow the process and share your experience of campus.