Mums the word from Moriyama architects

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By Michael Traikos

Ryerson officially announced last week that Moriyama and Teshima Architects will design the highly-anticipated Centre for Computing and Engineering, but has told the firm not to comment on what stage that project is in.

“I’m glad that they’re respecting the protocol that we’ve set up,” said Ian Hamilton, director of campus planning and facilities.

Hamilton did say that the project, which was initially contracted to world-class architect Santiago Calatrava, is well under way.

“In the last year we’ve done a lot of useful work that should give us a leg up,” he said.

A Request for Proposal Committee short-listed four architects after about 20 in the GTA proposed to design the $65 million building.

Ryerson refused to reveal who the other short-listed firms were, even though “it’s public knowledge,” said Yew-Thong Leong, a partner with Robbie, Young and Wright Architects and an architect professor at Ryerson.

Leong told The Eyeopener that Moffat Kinoshita, Webb Zarafa and H.O.K. Canada were all interviewed by Ryerson’s committee last December.

Moriyama and Teshima Architects, which has designed the Bata Shoe Museum and York University’s Vari Hall, was chosen because of its reputation for completing projects on time and under budget.

One of the reasons Ryerson rejected Calatrava’s proposal is that the building would have been significantly over budget.

“I am really pleased because he (Moriyama) is someone who has done a lot of work in Ontario universities,” said Ryerson president Claude Lajeunesse.

Hamilton said the committee was impressed with Moriyama’s previous projects.

“They (the committee) decided it was a look that would be complimentary to Ryerson.”

But several firms that sent in proposal to design the building were appalled by Ryerson’s handling of the selection process.

“I contacted Ryerson to see if we had been chosen, but was stonewalled,” said an unidentified source from one of the shortlisted firms. “For us it’s a huge disappointment.”

Ryerson only contacted the firms that were short-listed and some didn’t know if they were still in the running until Ryerson made the official announcement.

Leong was “absolutely surprised and disappointed,” that his firm, which has designed the SkyDome and is largely staffed by Ryerson graduates, didn’t even make the shortlist. Leong’s issues were solely with the way Ryerson handled their choice of firms however, and not with the Moriyama firm itself. “They (Moriyama) are a really good firm,” Leong said, “It’s an honour to lose out to them.”

Hamilton wouldn’t say if the university is still in contract negotiations with Moriyama and Teshima Architects, but hopes to have a design to show the Ryerson community by the summer.

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