Bold New Learning and Urban Environment

by julia.hanigsberg | April 14th, 2011

Learning, teaching, researching and working at the heart of Canada’s most cosmopolitan city, members of the Ryerson community have long yearned for a front door on Toronto’s main street. That aspiration is becoming a reality.

On April 6, President Sheldon Levy – joined by students, architects, members of the Board of Governors, Ontario government ministers John Milloy and Glen Murray, MP Bob Rae, former minister George Smitherman,  member of the local BIA and other special guests – unveiled the design of the Ryerson Student Learning Centre. Even though I have been deeply involved in the project, I experienced a fresh wave of excitement and pride at seeing the beautiful design made public and the delighted response it generated from students, community members, and the media.

Ryerson’s Window to the World and the World’s Window into Ryerson

Eight storeys of bright, sustainably built and operated, technologically rich, barrier-free space at the intersection of Yonge and Gould: the Student Learning Centre will transform the way learning takes place at Ryerson, and how Ryerson connects to our dynamic city.

As they presented their plans, the building’s chief architects – Tarek El-Khatib (Zeidler Partnership Architects) and Craig Dykers (Snøhetta) – noted that learning doesn’t only occur in formal classroom settings. The creation and transfer of knowledge also happens through informal conversations and gatherings. Physical spaces that encourage people to meet and talk with one another can play a powerful role in supporting such encounters and exchanges.

“Feeling good in groups,” Dykers reminded us, “is often hard to do in cities.” But, through its ingenious combinations of space, light, levels, technologies, building materials, and atmospheres, Ryerson’s new “window to the world” will add immensely to the urban renewal underway in our city’s dense core. The building’s elevated entry plaza alone will, I’m sure, become a favourite civic space for Torontonians to gather and enjoy . Once the Student Learning Centre is complete I don’t think I’ll have another meeting in my office! Why not take a meeting at the Beach?

Team with a Vision

Significant projects such as the Student Learning Centre don’t emerge without the tireless efforts of many people.  I’m deeply grateful to the entire team of consultants especially Vaidala Benelis and Mike Smith of Zeidler and Michael Cotton of Snohetta. They have been tireless and along with Tarek and Craig have heard our needs and translated them into something extraordinary. My thanks also go to our Building Committee and User Groups. They set the highest of expectations for our new building. Their dedication to the university’s vision of a progressive, sustainable environment will pay huge dividends for Ryerson students, faculty, and staff – and the City of Toronto – for generations to come. And finally, the Capital Projects & Real Estate Team—a true group of professionals happy to stay in the background while the project and the students, faculty and staff who will get to enjoy it take centre stage.

City building at its best…  On Yonge Street… By Ryerson.

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