Precedent: Unique, quality landscape design

The Courtyard open spaces are the opportunities to create beautiful, unique, and intimate places. Each courtyard adds to the variety of open spaces and open space design, thereby bringing a diversity of landscape characteristics and forms to the overall Framework. Generally, courtyards should be designed as flexible spaces for passive recreation and activity. There should be multiple entrances onto the spaces from the buildings that frame them. They should be well lit with pedestrian-scale lighting and transparent building frontages. At-grade uses should animate the space so that they are comfortable and safe places to be. The courtyards also provide the perfect opportunities to tell the Indigenous story through design, planting, and the integration of art as spaces that can be viewed and experienced from surrounding buildings.

Schedule 13: The Courtyards

The recommendations above apply to all existing and new courtyard spaces but the following sections provide more specific recommendations that speak to increased use of the existing courtyards spaces and the enhancement of the unique elements within.

School of Music Outdoor Theatre Courtyard

The School of Music Outdoor Theatre Courtyard is one of the University’s key heritage landscape assets to be conserved and enhanced. The courtyard space is framed by a mature canopy of trees and is very similar in character to the Forest Landscape open space. It provides opportunities for passive activity, a quiet place to study, and appreciate art. It is a beautiful landscape to view and experience from the indoors in the cold seasons, and the outdoors in the warm seasons.


  • Preserve and enhance the existing trees and landscape features.
  • Re-purpose the outdoor amphitheatre as a place for ceremonial use by Indigenous peoples, and for temporary and permanent art installations.
  • Provide greater access onto the space. Remove the pit fronting the student lounge and provide a door access to the open space. Transform the pit with terraced seating or other innovative design measures.
  • The at-grade use of all new buildings should provide “eyes on the courtyard”, animate the space, and provide internal and external pedestrian linkages between the courtyard and buildings.

    Precedent: Buildings front open space providing “eyes-on-the-courtyard”

  • All new buildings that front the courtyard should provide multiple points of access to it, and a high degree of transparency fronting it. The building should help to illuminate the open space at night.
  • Provide pedestrian-scale lighting to allow use of the courtyard space at night. Consider sustainable “Dark Sky Lighting” systems in the forested setting to protect wildlife habitat.
  • Provide seating and benches to increase the use of the space.

McMaster Hall Courtyard

The McMaster Hall Courtyard is a very unique open space on the Campus. It is a space that is well viewed by the buildings that surround it. The terraced grading creates unique design opportunities for seating and increased use and enjoyment of the courtyard and the vegetable gardens within.


  • Redesign the planters with sitting edges and consider the use of high quality materials such as wood and stone in keeping with the character of the University, and to enhance the look and feel of the space.

    Precedent: Planters with high quality materials and sitting edges

  • Integrate trees into the planter landscape to beautify the space.
  • Accommodate plants and planting techniques that are significant for Indigenous peoples, in order to support ceremonial functions and cultural education.
  • Redesign the pedestrian passageway so that it is more inviting and attractive as the face to the street.

Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium Courtyard

This urban space functions both as a courtyard and the forecourt or “lobby for the auditorium. It should be the place to linger and socialize before and after an event. It must also function as a space to sit and linger during nonevent hours. Because of its location, the courtyard space must also function as part of the north west gateway into the Campus and should be designed as a welcoming and attractive space, as the “meeting place” on the corner.


  • The courtyard should be designed as an extension of the streetscape design with places to sit and linger.

    Precedent: Courtyard with places to sit and linger

  • Landscaping should be used to soften the architectural design and feel of the building.
  • The drop-off area should be removed to provide a more generous space and to accommodate seating and landscaping. The drop-off area for the auditorium should be relocated within designated lay-by spaces on the street fronting the building.
  • The “grand stairs” should be maintained and enhanced as a key component of the original design but should also be used as seating within the space.