By Richard Maerov
Business faculty and staff are eager to make the move from their converted brewery on Victoria Street to the state-of-the-art building on the corner of Bay and Dundas streets. And they might even move on time.
With less than five months to go until the Aug. 25 deadline, hundreds of builders, electricians and carpenters are working around the clock to get the building finished in time for the start of the fall semester. “They’re on a very tight schedule,” said Jule Mycan, project manager for Campus Planning and Facilities. “The deadline is non-negotiable.”
The $75-million construction project is Ryerson’s sixth new building in less than five years. But it is the first time Ryerson has ventured west of Yonge Street, which is important to newly appointed business dean Ken Jones. “All of a sudden we’re in the downtown core. We’re no longer hidden,” he says, stressing the symbolism of having the business school on Bay Street, the epicentre of the city’s financial district.
The nine-story building is connected to the west side of the Eaton Centre. The top three floors will house the four undergraduate business schools, the faculty’s five research centres, and the new graduate business department.
Ryerson’s undergraduate business program is the largest in Canada, with more than 6,200 full-time, and an additional 2,500 part-time, students. The co-owner of the building, Eaton Centre developer Cadillac Fairview Corporation Ltd., will occupy the lower floors, reserved for several levels of parking, a Canadian Tire and a BestBuy. Students will enter the building directly underneath from the Dundas subway station, or through the main entrance at the northwest corner of the building at 55 Dundas St. W.
To get to the top floors, they will use a set of escalators or one of three elevators. Each floor covers 220,000 square feet and surrounds a giant 65,000- square-foot courtyard.
“It’s like three Costco stores stacked on top of each other,” said David Martin, director of the School of Hospitality and Hotel Management. “It’s massive.” The courtyard will feature a Japanese rock garden and one symbolic ginko tree in middle.
“It will have a peaceful, cerebral kind of feel,” says Ian Hamilton, director of Campus Planning and Facilities. Lounges and common areas look out onto the courtyard. Faculty and admininstration offices, labs, seminar rooms and offices for the business course unions and other student organizations face the street. Several 300-seat lecture halls and one massive 500-seat auditorium are also planned.
The building will have wireless internet and all classrooms will have remote-controlled screens. But for all its bells and whistles, it doesn’t have a name yet. Adam Kahan, VP university advancement, said the university has been having discussions with a number of interested parties for naming rights. The asking price is $15 million.
“There is no deadline. It’ll happen as soon as somebody agrees,” Kahan said. “Hopefully sooner rather than later.” Staff and students are looking forward to leaving the old building, which they say is inadequate. They complain of overcrowding and insufficient resources. “It’s crap,” said Carolyn Van, a second-year marketing student.
“The washrooms are never clean, there is bad maintenance, the elevators are slow, the chairs uncomfortable and the computer labs are always too crowded.”
Second-year business management student Terry Grace agrees. “The ventilation is really bad,” he said. “The computer lab smells rank.” Business students are currently spread around campus.
Saad Arif, a third-year accounting student, has two classes in the business building, two in the engineering building, and one in Kerr Hall. He’s looking forward to having all of his classes in one place. “Hopefully, I won’t have to keep jumping around,” he said. Hamilton is confident that the building will be finished on time.
“We have to have the building ready for academic programming in September,” he said. “But the team has been great and we will make it.”