Ryeson wants hot-shot architect to make statement in the community
By Michael Traikos
After a year of rejected design plans, Ryerson has finally found someone to design its Centre for Computing and Engineering.
Before Christmas, Ryerson shortlisted four architecture firms to design the monumental building at 243 Church St. — the same one that world-renowned architect Santiago Calatrava was initially enlisted to design more than a year ago.
This week, The Eyeopener learned that Moriyuma and Teshima Architects will most likely design the building that Ryerson hopes will be both functional as well as a statement for the university.
“Ryerson considers it to be an important building in the community,” said Daniel Teramura, one of the firm’s partners. “The site, the importance of the site and the opportunity to make a statement for Ryerson is really unique.”
Teramura said that Ryerson hasn’t made an official announcement yet but designing the building is “a challenge that we look forward to.”
A Ryerson architect selection committee began evaluating architecture after about 20 submitted proposals to design the building. The committee rated each firm on a scale of one to 10 and contacted the top four firms for an interview and presentation.
“Sometimes a firm’s written proposal isn’t that great, but they shine in their presentation,” said Wade Pitman, manager of purchasing and payment, who was on the Request for Proposal committee.
Once the committee settled on a firm, a contract was negotiated and the firm was recommended to Ryerson’s executive group, made up of school president, Claude Lajeuneusse and the three vice-presidents.
“They’ve (the firm) been told not to say anything until then,” said Phillips. “Chances are if someone’s not telling you anything, that may be the one.”
Still, most Toronto architects and those in the architecture community say that Moriyuma and Teshima Architects, currently involved in designing at Carleton University, Brock University, McMaster University and Seneca College, was the obvious choice.
“Moriyuma has a good design reputation. They’ve designed a lot of educational institutions,” said a short-listed architect who would not give his name.
He said that his firm was probably overlooked because of who was hired to design the building last year.
“We’re a joint venture and they just got burned by a joint venture,” said the unidentified architect. “That’s where we hurt ourselves. I think in our case they were nervous to go into a joint venture.”
Having designed Vari Hall at York University and the Bata Shoe Museum, Moriyuma and Teshima Architects are experienced in working on a wide range of projects.
Some believe the firm’s reputation for designs that are extravagant, yet useful, helped it win the project.
“He’s (Moriyuma) a very sensitive architect,” said Christopher Hume, an urban issues columnist at The Toronto Star. “He will come out with a response that is sensitive to the needs of the students. They’re the best that Toronto has.”
But Hume quickly pointed out that Ryerson is losing something by not having its first choice, Santiago Calatrava, designing the building.
“It’s great shame that they didn’t get Calatrava,” said Hume. “I’m not sure it will be as exciting. It would have been more interesting for the city to have something different.”
Ryerson has expected to make an official announcement last night.
“It’s not over until it’s over,” said Linda Grayson, v.p. administration and student affairs.
Grayson said that the university and an unnamed firm were still in contract negotiations. An official announcement was expected last night.
“We’re hoping that it’s over soon.”