A pair of Starry Nights visitors look at the illuminated seasonal star charts at SFU's Trottier Observatory and Courtyard.


Photos: SFU's Trottier Observatory wins national award for landscape design

April 10, 2017

The Trottier Observatory and Courtyard at SFU's Burnaby campus is the recipient of a 2017 national award of excellence from the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA). It was recognized in the category of best small-scale public landscape designed by a landscape architect. 

Completed in 2015 at a cost of about $3.4 million, the courtyard was designed by PWL Partnership Landscape Architects Inc. in consultation with various SFU departments, and physics professor Howard Trottier. The observatory, courtyard and associated projects were funded by SFU and a $2.7-million gift from the Trottier Family Foundation

The CSLA is the "voice of the profession in Canada," advocating for its members on issues such as urban design, urban renewal, sustainable development and cultural heritage.

Here's a look at some of the courtyard's award-winning features: 

The science courtyard features star-shaped benches, huge illuminated seasonal star charts, and "star-lit" Milky Way pathways.

The "backbone" of the courtyard is a long concrete plinth that represents the science of spectroscopy, which is the backbone of all astronomical knowledge.

At night, the plinth is lit with colours that represent the spectra of light generated by six important elements: hydrogen, helium, carbon, aluminum, silicon and sulphur.

The areas adjacent to the courtyard allows astronomers ample space to set up their own portable telescopes.

The greenery surrounding the observatory are creatively filled with plants whose colours are chosen to match the colours of the nine "planets"—with Pluto counted as an honorary member of the family.

Photos by Dale Northey, SFU Creative Studio