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By Karon Liu

Features Editor

The design for the new Image Arts building was unveiled yesterday and construction is expected to begin this summer.

The project is being funded by an anonymous $7-million donation.

“I wanted to make sure that it was not only a gallery that would meet the standards of world-class galleries, I wanted to see a design that the university would be proud of for generations,” said Ryerson President Sheldon Levy, who worked on the design for the past 18 months. “It would mark the first real significant photographic gallery in Toronto and be a design that could sit beside the ROM … in terms of design and scope and imagination.”

The building will have an additional 1,200 square metres of study and teaching space as well as three different galleries: a student gallery, a main gallery for the public and a space that will house Ryerson’s Black Star collection, a set of over 300,000 photographs worth $1 million.

“It’s the realization of a dream that goes back over 20 years. We’ve had these collections building up over the years and with the Black Star donation and then the announcement of this, well it’s all just falling into place,” said Image Arts chair Don Snyder.

“Academically, this will also help our teaching programs and bring us to an international level.”

The building was designed by Toronto-based Diamond and Schmitt Architects, whose portfolio includes York Univeristy’s Student Centre and the Four Seasons Centre.

The main feature of the building is its glass walls, which will allow sunlight in during the day while multi-coloured LED lights will illuminate the building at night. Principle architect Donald Schmitt graduated from U of T with an architecture degree and has taught at the University of Toronto’s school of architecture as well as the University of Texas, University of Waterloo and University of British Columbia.

“The big challenge was how to transform the existing Image Arts building, which is a big yellow-brick beat,” Schmitt said.

Levy won’t give an estimate for the project, saying that it would drive up building costs when the school shops around for a construction firm.

“It’s something that OCAD always had over our heads. It is much more impressive on the grand scheme,” said 3rd-year student Sarah Muro.

The building is expected to be completed by December 2010.

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