Renovated Mirror Lake nears completion
The restoration effort will return Mirror Lake to a more natural and sustainable state
Water has returned to Mirror Lake.
Construction of the centerpiece of the historic Mirror Lake District started in late 2016. The lake has remained largely empty since then – filled with backhoes and construction workers. That’s changing.
Work crews continue to install walkways, add landscaping and refine some of the features surrounding the new Mirror Lake. Now the area looks more like the iconic campus location that it was and less like a construction site. An opening date in mid-August is expected.
“I think the biggest change in my mind is it is going to look a lot more open than it did before. We’ve pulled some of the perimeter planting back and we’ll be planting the lake edge. It will have a much softer edge,” said University Landscape Architect Steve Volkmann.
Volkmann said one of the improvements that has him excited about the renovated Mirror Lake is the increase in seating. New benches, overlooks and terraces and scarlet Adirondack chairs will encircle the area.
A technology upgrade will see Wi-Fi access throughout the district. That should allow students to study or faculty to teach in the area.
The historic Mirror Lake District renovation, which includes Baker Commons, Browning Amphitheater and Oxley and Pomerene Halls, aligns with the university’s campus master plan, Framework 2.0. The seating in Browning Amphitheatre has been repaired or replaced and new landscaping surrounds the stage. Construction inside and around Pomerene Hall is reaching a conclusion.
The renovated Mirror Lake was designed with input from students, faculty and staff to be safer and more sustainable.
“The new plant material provides a habitat that will be great for pollinators. From that standpoint it will be a much more sustainable landscape. We are just really providing better habitat than we did before,” he said.
The new lake is shallower and has sloping edges that will be covered with native plant material, contributing to a safer environment as well.
Volkmann said the new Mirror Lake is a return to historic roots.
“With the founding of the university it used to be just a stream that ran through here. It was originally a bog,” he said. “But over the years, the lake changed. As the university developed, Mirror Lake changed shape and size. The most recent change is that of a brick bottom with stone walls. That’s what everybody was most familiar with but that wasn’t really [Mirror Lake’s] origins. With this redesign we’re moving it back towards its original condition.”