By Jaime Jacques
In a hastily-organized press conference last Friday afternoon, Ryerson’s student campus centre committee announced the architectural firm that will build its long-awaited student centre.
“I’m overjoyed,” said Liz Devin, president of Ryerson Centre, a group formed 50 years ago to build the student centre.
Committee members first met briefly to ratify the decision in a board room in the 14th floor of Jorgenson Tower, then announced that Carruthers Shaw architects was chosen from a short list of three firms to build Ryerson’s proposed student centre.
The committee, made up of representatives from RyeSAC, Ryerson faculty and administration, spent the last month reviewing proposals from 25 architecture firms and decided Carruthers Shaw was the best choice because of their experience with other schools.
The company has designed student centres at Sheridan College, Upper Canada COllege and the University of Waterloo.
RyeSAC president Cory Wright said the firm came in with a proposal that will take into consideration the unique needs of Ryerson students.
“The best thing about them was their work plan. A designer is going to come in and sit down with student groups and talk to them about what they want.
Paul Cravit, a carruthers SHaw partner in charge of the student centre, said this is an exciting type of building for architects to work on.
“A student centre is the hub of most communities. Campuses that don’t have [student centres] have a definite void,” Cravit said.
“We don’t come with a design, we come to listen to everyone else’s input and then build something that’s unique to that group,” he said.
This is the second time Ryerson has hired an architect to construct the campus centre.
In 1991 the Ryerson Student Union—a predecessor of RyeSAC—had a site already and an architect hired, but students voted no in a referendum asking if each student would pay $50 each year to fund the construction. The project was then put on hold until another referendum in 1998, when 74 per cent of students agreed to put a $60 yearly fee—which was originally used to pay off the mortgage of the athletic centre—toward a new student centre.
Devine said the university in a different position now because everything has come together at the right time. “We have a site available and students willing to pay.”
Las spring, however, building plans were buried under a financial dispute between then-RyeSAC president Erin George and Ryerson’s v.p. Administration and student affairs Linda Grayson.
It was in this school year that the dispute has been settled. The Access Centre—at 55 Gould Street, beside Oakham House—will be demolished this summer. Construction of the student centre on that site is scheduled to start in March 2002.
Plans including moving all RyeSAC services, course unions and clubs under one roof. It will also have a convenience store and a travel agency.
Wright said the centre will bring Ryerson students together in a common area.
“Building a sense of community is very important and that’s what we are trying to do.”