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Swann Mall renovations displace campus landmarks, including Rock, Prairie Chicken

By Jason Herring, April 26 2018 —

The Prairie Chicken will make a rare migration this summer. Construction on the University of Calgary campus will displace a number of iconic campus landmarks, including the Prairie Chicken and the Rock.

Redevelopment of the MacKimmie Complex and Professional Faculties building will close Swann Mall — the green space between the MacKimmie Complex, Administration, Murray Fraser Hall and Science A — until Aug. 26. The area will be excavated for underground utility and landscaping work. It will partially reopen to pedestrian traffic at the start of the upcoming fall semester.

The Prairie Chicken, which has been on campus since 1975, is an iconic piece of campus art, situated atop the hill outside Science A that is well-populated by lounging students on warm afternoons. The 4.5-ton sculpture will leave its home during the summer and be stored by the U of C elsewhere until its reinstallation in 2022. Additionally, the hill where the Prairie Chicken currently sits will be flattened as part of the landscaping of Swann Mall. The U of C would not specify where the artwork is moving to.

The Rock — a campus mainstay that students paint messages on — will also move from its current space outside MacKimmie, but will find a temporary home between Science A and MacHall. The flagpole outside MacKimmie will move permanently to a space near the U of C’s main entrance off 24th Ave, while the Canadian flag that the school puts to half-mast will move to a flagpole outside of the Rosza Centre.

Other Swann Mall artifacts, such as the “Garden of Learning” sculpture currently situated outside the Administration building and memorial plaques on benches and trees, will also be stored by the U of C in an unspecified location.

In addition to these objects, students may have noticed the removal of trees from the Swann Mall area starting in early April. The U of C says those trees were removed early so as not to impact nesting birds. The school has also said that, after consultation with an arborist, it will retain only about one-third of the trees currently in the area. However, it will add about 150 new trees to the redeveloped area.

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