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Ryerson’s race to build buildings

By Jonathan Bjerg Meller

Ryerson could lose $54-million worth of newly received SuperBuild funding if proposed buildings aren’t ready by 2003, and planning has only just started.

“We have a contract that they [the new building] have to be built and ready to receive by 2003,” David Rose, a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities, said.

Ryerson president Claude Lajeunesse seemed unworried about the September 2003 deadline. “I don’t see it as a strict deadline, just a common sense deadline,” Lajeunesse said, adding the university has to be ready for the influx of high school students resulting from the election of O.A.C classes in 2003.

But at a press conference last Tuesday, provincial Finance Minister Ernie Eves said universities must have it facilities ready for September 2003 or risk losing the funding.

Experts say the SuperBuild timeline poses a challenge for Ryerson, while construction experts emphasize the university needs a clear and detailed plan to meet the government’s deadline.

Director of campus planning Ian Hamilton said his department has only a completed a preliminary calculation of how much space will be needed to accommodate the expected influx of 3,350 extra students by 2003. What remains to be done, he said, is working with design consultants, getting estimates for contractors, and determining the project’s overall cost.
“I can’t say much right now,” Hamilton said.
By comparison, the University of Toronto has begun excavating one of two new building sites for its SuperBuild projects, said Fleming Galbert, director of the University of Toronto’s property management design and construction department. The other site, he said, is in the programming phase—deciding what the specific details of the building will be.
Michael Swann, a building regulations consultant of Toronto, said getting all necessary building permits could take months.

“It all depends on how firm they [Ryerson planners] are in their design,” Swann said. “If you have to ask for plans two or three times for revision that could add a month every time.”

It’s also important for Ryerson to determine exactly what it wants, said Victor Smith of NORR Limited Architects and Engineers, the firm that designed the Rogers Communication Centre a little more than a decade ago.

“It’s achievable but it isn’t an automatic process,” Smith said. “The project will have to be well-organized and thought out to get the best that the construction community can offer. We’d certainly like to be involved [with Ryerson’s new projects].”

There haven’t been any official talks between Ryerson and NORR, Smith said, but they have maintained a “line of communication.”


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