Coinciding with the formal amalgamation of the three founding colleges to form the University of Guelph, the campus also went through a major exercise in campus planning. For this, Project Planning Associates Ltd. (PPAL) was engaged. This remarkable, far-sighted decision is largely responsible for the pedestrian-friendly nature of campus. What set PPAL apart from other architectural firms was that at its core were landscape architects who understood that outdoor spaces and buildings need to work harmoniously together to achieve a balance between natural and built environments. The firm was founded in 1956 by Macklin Hancock, a graduate of the Ontario Agricultural College who later went on to study landscape architecture in the US with the renowned Dr. Walter Gropius, Lord Holford, and Dr. C. Holmes Perkins at Harvard University.
The origins of PPAL date back to Hancock’s appointment in 1953 as the town planner to orchestrate the creation of the proposed new development of Don Mills in Ontario. Along the way, he attracted a group of like-minded but differently talented individuals to create a multidisciplinary organization that provided fully integrated consulting services. For many decades, the company's project teams included planners and designers, infrastructure and transportation engineers, landscape architects, and environmental and socioeconomic specialists.