Esther E. Shipman | January 17, 2014
Ryerson University has chosen to make a bold architectural statement with its new Student Learning Centre. The building designed by international design stars Snøhetta in collaboration with Toronto based Zeidler Partnership Architects, pushes the boundaries of the main Ryerson campus westward providing Ryerson with a high profile presence on historic Yonge St, Toronto’s main north-south thoroughfare.
The site and the design are an integral part of Ryerson’s strategic shift from its earlier Poly-Technique roots to a major player amongst Canadian Universities, particularly in the Arts. The Ryerson Student Learning Centre (currently under construction and slated to open in September 2014), follows a series of significant land acquisitions, large scale building projects and department reorganizations undertaken in the last ten years +/-, that have helped to elevate Ryerson in the mind’s eye of the public and position the institution as a serious contender for top tier faculty and students.
The Student Learning Centre, a chiseled, orb-like glass form, set back from the intersection, will deliberately break the rhythm of Yonge’s linear 19th century facades and appear as a glittering beacon and gateway to Ryerson’s campus. The exterior steps and plaza surrounding building is intended to serve as an extension of the building design and function. For Snøhetta, the dynamic Norwegian firm that has built its reputation on masterfully blurring the traditional distinctions between architecture and landscape, the challenge and ultimate success of balancing these two elements on such a compact urban site will be revealed once the building is opens this coming fall and is put through its paces with rigourous, constant use by thousands of students.
The Ryerson Student Learning Centre marks the second Canadian project for Snohetta, following the Queen’s University Elizabeth Bader Theatre Centre, slated to open in May 2014. It was just announced recently that the firm won the competition for the new Calgary Public Library. Snohetta now runs their North American projects from their New York City office.