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Classing Up The Joint

ryerson_29Jan08.jpg
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

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