Housing contest eyes underused campus site

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By Carys Mills

Ryerson’s eastern boundaries seemed forgotten until last month. At the southeast corner of Gerrard and Mutual streets, near a notorious fast food restaurant and an aging private residence, are offices belonging to Ryerson. Some of the space, including the Gerrard Copy Centre, is closed down this year.

On Sept. 21 an international design competition began, asking students to design a housing facility for that site, which would be built in partnership between the university and a private developer.

The REZ Ryerson University Student Housing Competition says the buildings could hypothetically be demolished to make way for redevelopment.

“They will be taking the ideas as a springboard,” said Katie Weber, director of youth programs at the Design Exchange, one of the partners in the contest.

Weber said there are already registrants from the local community, Poland and Kenya.

Designs are due at the end of December and an exhibition will be held later in the winter. The first place prize is $5,000.

The buildings currently at the site don’t follow the university’s Master Plan, which strategizes development. The plan calls for a vertical campus to maximize space, but the current buildings fall short.

Ryerson’s president, Sheldon Levy, described the buildings as “run-down.”

“That’s a redevelopment site, we’d eventually knock it down,” he said.

The Master Plan also calls for increased housing; something the university is unable to do by itself. According to Levy, Ryerson needs to look to the private sector to develop housing space.

Horizon Legacy developed Campus Common, a private residence near Ryerson, and contributed financially to be part of the competition. Contest details outline that Campus Common will have the first opportunity to work with the creator on their design.

“We’ve broken new ground,” said Horizon Legacy president Tony Zwig about Campus Common. “We’ve learned a lot over the last few years about residence development.”

According to Zwig, Horizon Legacy is interested in building more residences near Ryerson and partnering with the university in the future.

Contest designs must include spaces for undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate and married students as well as for faculty, staff and visiting scholars. The building would house 560 in total.

Ryerson launched a similar competition in 2007 calling for designs for the closure of Gould Street.

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