Renegade architect schools Rye

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By Vanessa Greco

Britain’s most notorious architect arrived on campus yesterday.

Will Alsop, the so-called bad boy of architecture, has taken up a teaching position at Ryerson. His first lecture was on Nov. 24.

The recent announcement of Alsop’s Ryerson arrival created a stir in the architecture community after the U.K. modernist announced in August that he’d be retiring.

“I actually said I was going to retire to do painting and a little bit more teaching,” said Alsop. “And a little bit more teaching is Ryerson.”

Dubbed a distinguished visiting practitioner, the world-renowned architect plans to help graduate students with their thesis projects. Prior to his appointment at Ryerson, Alsop mentored students at schools in London, Vienna and Hannover.

While he understands arson isn’t considered an appropriate teaching method at Ryerson, Alsop recalls a time when it was effective.

“If I didn’t like someone’s project I’d set fire to their model,” said Alsop of his time as an instructor in London.

“But that’s what they deserved. If you don’t work then I can’t respect your work.”

Alsop’s own body of work spans over three decades. In 2000, he won the Stirling Prize, architecture’s highest honour, for the Pekham Library in London.

Locally, Alsop is best-known for designing the Sharp Centre, a four-storey “tabletop” building for the Ontario College of Art and Design.

According to Gregory Woods, Ryerson architecture graduate and Alsop’s business partner, the star architect considered submitting a design proposal for Ryerson’s Student Learning Centre.

“We regretfully decided not to pursue it,” said Woods explaining that Alsop was setting up a new studio at the time.

Regardless of how he contributes during his time at Ryerson, Kendra Schank Smith, chair of architecture, believes Alsop’s visit will elevate the profile of Ryerson’s architecture program.

“He allows our students to engage with the international architecture community,” she said.

After years spent building his own career, Alsop looks forward to mentoring Ryerson students.

“A lot of these young people can go on to be great architects if they’re taught well, if they’re opened and tested,” he said. “I could do that.”


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