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By Drew Halfnight

The hammering, banging, drilling and general karmic disturbance emanating from the Metropolis shopping and theatre complex will soon come to an end.

After years of delays, students will return this fall, not to a heinous construction site, but a finished building — and subway connection to Dundas station. The ads, glass and siding that form the building’s exterior will be in place and four floors of stores and restaurants will be open for business.

Among these stores, Adidas, Future Shop, Shopper’s Drug Mart, Starbuck’s, Jonny Rockets restaurant and two food courts with fast-food chains such as Bagel Stop, Cinnabon and Baskin-Robbins.

“By this coming September, the exterior of the building will look complete,” said Manuel Ravinsky, Ryerson’s facility and capital planner.

Ryerson President Sheldon Levy said that the school “has a sense of ownership” over wall space on the Victoria Street side, but buying prized advertising spots on the Dundas Square side is not out of the question. “Whether or not we put (the Ryerson name) on Dundas, we’ll have to see how much that costs. But we won’t be invisible.”

Leger Xavier, assistant VP of marketing for Metropolis, addressed some of the building’s inherent architectural limitations.

“Obviously there is only so much you can do to hide what effectively are 24 boxes on top of the garage,” he said, adding that the architects tried to break up the large elevation with vertical glass elements.

Fourth-year architecture student Carmen Szeto says the building is good for the city, but bad for Ryerson.

“Formally, it’s not really connected with the fabric of the campus,” she said, looking over the behemoth construction site from across the street. “This would have been key to connecting Ryerson to the city.”

Szeto said that the building completes Dundas Square but casts a shadow over Lake Devo. “It’s so massive, it’s just not responsive to human scale,” she said.

Xavier had a different take: “Metropolis will be another unique feature of Ryerson student life and the campus, which will further define Ryerson’s urban learning experience.”

The building’s 24 AMC theatres will not open until Spring 2008, when phase two is complete.

Twelve of the theatres will double as Ryerson lecture halls on weekday mornings, but probably not until Fall 2008. Ravinsky said profs will not be able to use Metropolis screening gear, so the school is spending about $750,000 to install digital projection and other equipment in the dozen theatres it will use under a 20-year contract with developers.

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