Campus walkways get ADA upgrades

Construction under way last summer to turn the stairs into Red Square into an ADA-compliant ramp was completed at the end of September.

Overheard at the Info Fair: “Hey, the stairs are gone; there used to be stairs there!” Students returning to campus this fall appeared to be excited to discover that the stairs on the main walkway south of Red Square have been replaced by a brick-paved ramp that allows everyone to follow the same route to and from the square.

During the summer, Facilities Development and Operations undertook the Central Walkways and ADA Improvements project as part of an ongoing effort to make our historic campus more accessible, inclusive, and equitable. The project has improved ADA access and removed trip hazards in Red Square, near the entrance to the Performing Arts Center, and in the PAC Plaza. Construction is substantially complete, and the Western grounds crew has begun planting around the new paths.

“I’m happy we were able to get it done this summer. It’s a relatively small project, but it really opens the flow of pedestrian traffic and removes barriers from central campus,” said Project Manager Julian Rodgers.

The ramp in Red Square allows everyone to travel the same path south of the square, creating a more direct, shared route. The new path and ramp at the PAC align with the curb cut and the crosswalk on High Street to make the route between the PAC Plaza and Wilson Library more accessible and easier to follow.

Director of the Disability Access Center, Josef Mogharreban, commented, “Much of Western’s infrastructure was built before accessibility was as well conceived and legally protected as it is today. For all students, including those with disability, this presents challenges. Projects like these are critical to addressing the diversity of our campus community and is central to Western’s values.”

Other ADA upgrades have recently included improved restroom facilities, elevator modernization, ADA parking stalls, wheelchair lifts, and building access improvements. ADA upgrades are also part of all room renovations including classrooms, laboratories, and offices.

Newer buildings are designed to incorporate principles of universal design to the greatest extent possible. Alma Clark Glass Hall, completed in 2021, provides a common pathway leading from the entrance upwards, so all people travel the same path to access other parts of the hall and the Ridgeway Complex.

The upgrades to the Ridgeway Complex associated with the building of Alma Clark Glass Hall provided the much-needed missing link to make the hilly topography of the Ridge more accessible. These upgrades include a series of ramps and an elevator to make the dining hall accessible from main campus, with an interior elevator and ramp added in Ridgeway Commons.