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Classing Up The Joint

Behold what might eventually become of Sniderman’s Corner: an attractive first rendering of the Ryerson Student Learning Centre. To be built at Yonge and Gould on the former sites of Sam The Record Man and the freshly-vacated Future Shop, the building represents Ryerson’s desperately coveted access to the Yonge Street strip.
To be designed by critical darlings KPMB Architects and Daoust Lestage, the institutionally glassy building will incorporate the historically designated Sam’s marquee, which was a condition of the $40 million land deal. A small office building and parking lot were also acquired in the buy, and last week, the Province of Ontario announced $45 million in funding for the centre, which also includes the renovation and expansion of Ryerson’s notoriously cruddy library-slash-bunker.
The cost of the site was criticized by some as exorbitant, but university president Sheldon Levy has a good initial track record, already dramatically increasing Ryerson’s profile with his long-term Master Plan, meant to significantly modernize the institution and create more space for its increasing enrollment and expanded programming.
Jammed into few ugly blocks just north of Dundas Square, Ryerson doesn’t feel much like a campus with its unnecessary automobile traffic and inward-turned quadrangle, and the lack of a strategic Yonge Street gateway has been pined over for decades. A series of creative partnerships saw Ryerson sharing a $75 million School of Business with Best Buy and Canadian Tire box stores, as well as daytime lecture hall privileges at the under-construction AMC multiplex in Toronto Life Square.
When Sam The Record Man closed last year, Levy made it crystal clear that Ryerson would do whatever it took to lock down that space. The law even permits it: under rare circumstances, universities may expropriate land if they can provide compelling academic or community justification. And with such a prime downtown location, image is everything—and it’s nice to see Ryerson leaving behind the “Rye High” polytechnic stigma of yore and unabashedly demanding some respect.
Artist rendering: Norm Li Architectural Graphics + Illustrations


  • rek

    More glass rectangles, yay.
    No sign of the marquee though.

  • Marc Lostracco

    From what I gather from the high-res rendering, the front is a glassy open space, and the signs are going to be in there and visible through the glass. The design is still in an extremely early stage, however, and they likely haven’t decided how it’s to be displayed. Ryerson didn’t yet have a comment on the sign when I asked.

  • Gloria

    They dropped the ball with their Dundas-Bay School of Business. It’s one ugly building. I hope this one turns out better.
    I like how they lined Yonge St with trees in this rendering.

  • spacejack

    I was going to ask, do they use so much glass in buildings because it’s cheap? But apparently the cost is “exorbitant”.
    On the other hand, lots of natural light is probably a good thing in an art & design school.
    My own personal feeling is that the original gold RBC tower from the 70s is pretty nice, but aesthetically, glass architecture in this city has been going downhill ever since.

  • darkstar416

    Please keep in mind that this is just a concept of the type of building that may go there. It is NOT an actual rendering of any proposed project. Hopefully, KPMB will release something soon.

  • Marc Lostracco

    It’s not the cost of the building that people were concerned about, but the cost of the land.
    Also, that stretch of sidewalk is so tiny—it can barely accommodate people, let alone trees.

  • Gloria

    @6: I thought that too, which is also why I found it amusing (although it does show how awesome our streets could look if we’d make the room for greens). It’s a wistful vision.

  • ronotoe

    the opportunity is there for something really special. I hope they go for it.

  • atomeyes99

    Why does every condo/building in Toronto need to be constructed out of glass and cold metal?
    Whatever was used for OCAD?
    For god sakes, Toronto architects, grow some balls and design something nice, not something humdrum and bland. Its bad enough to see the boring crap when i drive on the Gardiner. now, its part of a university.
    great future thinkers will be inspired by Ryerson’s new building…inspired to move to New York, Barcelona, Madrid, etc

  • rek

    Ryerson made their business management school even uglier by naming it after Ted Rogers.
    I’m still not sure how fronting on Yonge will add any sort of prestige or whatever to Ryerson though.

  • Svend

    Why does Ryerson need to front on Yonge St.?
    It’s not a business that depends on walk-in traffic like some pizza parlour. I could understand if it meant an underground access to the subway station, will that happen?

  • Dillon McManamy

    I never really got the whole glass crystal condo fad personally. In terms of actual residences it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense as glass is a terrible insulator for heat, it contributes to light pollution and it kinda fucks with the migratory patterns of birds.

  • rocketeer

    I don’t know if anyone should want to be associated with Toronto Life Square.
    And yes, more trees please. Yonge Street north of Dundas could definitely use a facelift.

  • dcooper

    We actually refer to the new Business building as the BBB – The Best Buy Building. I guess this end up being the SOS building? Sad Old Sam’s.

  • dowlingm

    Is glassing in the Sam’s Record Sign preservation? I’m a bit dubious given all the fuss there was about it.

  • Loozrboy

    I’m sure it will look a lot nicer once they replace the “Design Exchange” banner with a 6-storey Bell beaver.

  • Amanda Buckiewicz

    If you look really closely, inside the glass building, there’s a huge two story ad for what appears to be Hillary Duff.
    The future is frightning.

  • the goggles do nothing

    Is that Duff supposed to be a reflection of the other side of the street (there is another sign just below the R for a book sale I think)? If so, they forgot to reverse it.

  • Ben

    Maybe the trees are there because they’ve narrowed traffic to one lane in each direction. I think that would be a great idea. It is funny how little sidewalk space there is at the intersection with the most pedestrian traffic.

  • Elusive

    My first impression of it was generally positive, but then I remembered that the first floor will be used as retail space. Bleh.
    As for the glass, I remember one reason the developers chose glass for the new School of Business building (the courtyard is surrounded by glass) was because they thought folks would favour natural light, being located in an urban centre and all. I do love being inside a glass building in the city (I can just imagine the view of Yonge-Dundas), although I recognize the issues some people have with it.

  • AR

    “My own personal feeling is that the original gold RBC tower from the 70s is pretty nice, but aesthetically, glass architecture in this city has been going downhill ever since”
    Back then the glass facade was used on very prominent buildings that have aged well. The Eaton Centre towers, Commerce Court West, Ontario Place, the Ontario Hydro Building, to name a few.
    Nothing has been going downhill, though glass is now so common on lesser buildings, such as condo towers. However, since Royal Bank Plaza, we’ve gotten fine examples such as Roy Thompson Hall, The Terrence Donnelly Centre, Spire condominium, Leslie L. Dan Pharmacy Building to name a few. We will surely get more with the ultra premium condo/hotels whose construction is now beginning.