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By Josh Visser

News Editor

Admin announces the award-winning team charged with developing the 20-year plan to revamp Rye High

Acclaimed architect Bruce Kuwabara’s firm was named as the lead proponent of the Ryerson Master Plan at a press conference yesterday and he wants to radically change the way you go to school.

Kuwabara envisions Kerr Hall “turned inside out,” a Gould Street closed to traffic, a Ryerson presence in Dundas Square, social spaces that will keep students on campus instead of the Eaton Centre and re-thinking private-public partnerships for the university. Ryerson President Sheldon Levy announced that Kuwabara’s firm, Kuwabara Payne Mckenna Blumberg Architects (KPMB) will be joined by three other Canadian firms, Daoust Lestage Inc. (urban and landscape design) in association with Greenberg Consultants Inc, and IBI Group for the project.

This winning team’s pitch beat out seven other proposals for the 18-month contract to come up with the blueprint that will shape Ryerson and the surrounding neighbourhood over the next 20 years.

KPMB received the 2005 Firm of the Year award and its projects have included Canada’s National Ballet School and the Gardiner Museum. It has also created “master plans” for the University of British Columbia and the University of Minnesota.

One key priority mentioned repeatedly at the press conference was the closure of Gould Street, which Levy has long been a major proponent of.

Toronto Mayor David Miller spoke at the press conference and he suggested that City Hall is prepared to shut down Gould, permanently.

“It’s possible if the city needs are addressed for Gould to be closed as early as the end of 2007,” Miller said afterwards.

Kuwabara said that Gould St. should be the heart of a transformed Ryerson campus, citing Harvard Square and NYU’s Washington Square.

Another key priority for Kuwabara would be completely changing the way students interact with Kerr Hall.

“Kerr Hall has the visual presence of the Pentagon,” Kuwabara said referring to how the hall blocks out the Quad, instead of inviting people.

He would not rule out the idea of knocking down the building entirely, either.

“Sometimes to add you have to subtract,” Kuwabara said. Even with additions to current buildings, more structures will be needed to handle Ryerson’s growth. Levy added that at least another 1,000 beds are needed for residence space in addition to academic space. But don’t expect a re-hash of Pitman Hall or another Jorgenson.

“I would rather have three great buildings than seven average ones,” Levy said.

All of these plans are going to cost major dollars, but Levy stressed that “students fees will definitely not be going up” as a result.

“The university will find the funds to make this happen,” Adam Kahan, university vice-president of advancement said. “Public, private partnerships, whatever it takes.”

Kuwabara said that any private-public partnership needs to promote the Ryerson brand first. The new business building is overshadowed by the Canadian Tire and Best Buy brands he said.

“When I ask my friends about the new business building they say, ‘the Canadian Tire building?’” Kuwabara added.

He said students would prefer small retail partnerships instead of the “big boxes.”

A preferable partnership he said would be similar to the new TIFF building which Kubawara’s firm is currently working on.

This building will have 150,000 square feet (over five floors) belong to the film festival and a privately owned 41 floor tower for condos.

Levy expects that the Master Planning team will have a report for him to look at within three to four months.

Check out Robyn Doolittle’s editorial for further analysis.

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