Photos by Tom Arban
The goal of Ryerson University’s new Master Plan is to reinvigorate the vibrant urban campus with buildings that achieve architectural excellence and landscaping that engages the wider neighborhood context. The Ryerson Image Centre and renovated Image Arts Building is the first building realized in this plan. An integrated planning process was implemented to create an innovative, cross-disciplinary, and interactive building.
A former warehouse that housed the School of Image Arts in the center of campus was offered as a site to house one of the world’s most significant photographic archives – The Black Star Collection. This collection had been bequeathed to the university in recognition of its historic role in teaching image arts and photography. Although the existing building required extensive structural and seismic upgrades, it was decided to retain and re-use it to whatever extent possible, and balance it with creating a museum-standard, climate-controlled, exhibition environment for the Collection.
The jury said, “This is a real statement about what design can do . . . really successful project . . . good example where architecture married open space and the civic good. . .”
The re-use of the existing school allowed for the addition of new program areas, brought natural light to many internal school spaces by peeling away much of the old warehouse shell, and generated the double skin glass cladding on the remaining upper shell that features the dynamic LED lighting display. What was an aging and insular school building hidden in plain sight is now a vibrant and multifaceted centerpiece.
The ground floor is transparent and directly links public spaces to the adjoining square and street. The entry to the new gallery is signaled by a glazed two-story addition with a transparent colonnade overlooking the pond/ rink that is the central feature of the square.
To create a beacon and raise the profile of the university, a lighting feature enwraps all four sides and is itself a work of art. Along with programmed displays, it is interactive and accessible with an app and smart phone so that one may create lighting designs of their own.
“The project creates a spectacular new structure at a key intersection at the center of campus. It stands as an example of outstanding architectural design in the growth of a university and renewal and expansion of a major city campus,” says Alex Anderson, chair and Don Snyder, past chair of the School of Image Arts; and Doina Popescu, Director, Ryerson Image Centre.
Project Team: Ryerson University for Ryerson Image Centre/School of Image Arts with Diamond Schmitt Architects; also Halcrow Yolles; Crossey Engineering