by julia.hanigsberg | October 22nd, 2012
When you think of the word “campus” what does it evoke? From the Latin word meaning “field,” it brings to mind quiet meadows, pastures and other grassy expanses, enclosed spaces, a space apart. Our Ryerson campus, meanwhile, sits squarely in the midst of Canada’s most diverse metropolis teeming with human and vehicular life (on two wheels and four!). Our soundscape includes emergency sirens, construction activities, protesting activists, and hard-working buskers.
Safe, vibrant spaces
Because of this full and fluid integration into Toronto’s urban drama, we have been working hard to enhance the quality of Ryerson’s outdoor space in order to make the most of our urban campus and all that it brings to the student experience. Enhancements such as Ryerson Square (our traffic-free zone on Gould Street) that students and university administration fought so long for, Balzac’s Café and its outdoor tables, and our gateway to the campus with the stunning architectural statement that will be our Student Learning Centre (SLC) all help create a healthy, inviting campus feeling without losing sight of the fact that we are a city university.
At the same time, a major component of Ryerson’s Master Plan is our role as a city-builder. Our commitment to community–institutional innovation is focused, in part, on addressing societal need through neighbourhood transformation. And we can accomplish that goal only by taking into consideration the needs of the diverse people, spaces, thoroughfares, buildings, businesses, and organizations that comprise the areas in which we learn and work. A good example of our efforts is the recent installation of an Urban Umbrella around the site of the SLC during its construction. Possessed of both strength and beauty, this remarkable scaffolding solution will ensure the Centre is a visually appealing addition to the neighbourhood even before its doors open. Bringing the Urban Umbrella to Canada working with our councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and with the great team at Ellis Don once again allows Ryerson to be a leader in commitment to the pedestrian experience and the public realm.
Our approach to Ryerson’s growth is also driven by the fact that we have no large, undeveloped land holdings. As a result, our much-needed expansion must happen by intensifying the use of existing sites. Our recent redevelopment of the historic Maple Leaf Gardens into the Mattamy Athletic Centre with Loblaw is one of the best examples of this but the Ted Rogers School of Management is another example and there will undoubtedly be more to come.
Good for Ryerson, good for Toronto
But that’s only part of the story. The truth is, the vitality of Toronto is also the vitality of Ryerson – and vice versa.
Weaving in and out of our neighbourhood is sometimes a challenge. More often, though, it presents incredible opportunities for city-building excellence – for example, the recent development of the Image Arts Building and Ryerson Image Centre. That’s because these new and renovated structures, and the cultural landmark they house, benefit not just the university, but our neighbourhood and entire city.
All of this is what makes us who we are, this is the uniqueness of Ryerson University: a university of our city, for our city with a reach beyond its borders to the country and the world.