Rye ends affair with world-class architect

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By Eyeopener Staff

Santiago Calatrava’s contract termination leaves bold building plan in ruins; forces university back to square one.Plans to construct a multi-million dollar building at Ryerson suffered a major setback this week when university administrators cancelled a contract with renowned architect Santiago Calatrava.

The building was to be completed by Sept. 2003 but will be pushed back to Sept. 2004, raising questions about the provincial government’s SuperBuild funding, which was to play for half of the construction.

“Ryerson University and Santiago Calatrava SA (the company) have ended their contractual relationship. Ryerson has elected to proceed with a process to select a new architect to design the building,” said the university in a statement released Monday evening.

The Calatrava building was to be erected at the southeast corner of Church and Gould Streets at a value of about $65 million. I was to house the engineering and computer science programs – an estimated 2,300 students.

“We have severed the contract with Satiago Caltrava SA,” said Ian Hamilton, Ryerson’s director of campus planning in an interview Tuesday.

Both Hamilton and Linda Grayson, v.p. administration and student affairs, refused to say why the contract was terminated.

Over the last year, the university completed environmental, parking and design studies for the proposed building. Administrators never approved Calatrava’s design for the world-class structure.

The architect’s original design was a $90-million building with a startling 33-storey tower. The tower, which would have pushed the building $25 million over budget, was later dropped.

Calatrava, a Spanish-born architect with offices across Europe, has designed such notable buildings as the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Reichstag Conversion and Toronto’s BCE Place.

Hamilton said the last year has not been completely wasted, though. “We’ve done work that can be put to good use,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ryerson has returned to its original short list of 24 architectural firms to see if those firms are still interested in submitting a proposal to design the building. The deadline for those proposals is Nov. 5.

Grayson and Hamilton said they hope to select a firm by the end of November.

Downtown city councillor Kyle Rae said there was only one way to describe how he felt after hearing of the recently scrapped contract. “I’m in mourning,” Rae said.

He also said residents of the condominium complex next to the site were upset to hear the news.

“They were looking forward to a Santiago Calatrava building next door,” he said.

The building was partially funded by the provincial government’s SuperBuild fund. Ryerson received $54 million to construct five new buildings on campus.

Tanya Cholakov, a spokesperson with the ministry of training, colleges and universities, said the fund was created to accommodate students in Sept. 2003, when two years of high school students enter university at the same time.

“The whole idea is to make sure the infrastructure is available for the incoming students,” Cholakov said.

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