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By Brad Whitehouse

Ryerson President Sheldon Levy isn’t the only one who thinks the university’s Master Plan is a good idea.

For the campus design, Toronto architecture firm Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg (KPMB) recently garnered the 2010 Institute Honor Award for Regional and Urban Design from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

“I was extremely, extremely pleased and proud to see that our master plan won the highest award in the United States,” said Levy.

The submission was chosen from a group of more than 100 contestants by a jury of five architects from the AIA. It had to function well for the purpose of the design, have an element of sustainability and show overall design excellence.

“It’s a very competitive process,” said Brenda Scheer, a juror for the competition.

“If it had not been top-rate, it would not have won.”

Announced by Levy in March 2008, the Master Plan is a vision for a more sustainable Ryerson campus with a greater presence downtown.

It is the reason for the ongoing construction of the Image Arts building on Gould Street and the purchase of iconic Toronto properties such as the Sam the Record Man building and Maple Leaf Gardens.

“This looked like it had really made a conscious attempt to integrate itself into the life and times of the downtown,” said Lance Jay Brown, another jury member.

Both Scheer and Brown cited this integration into the urban core as well as plans to create a more walkable campus co-develop with other commercial and residential projects as major reasons why the design stood out from the others.

“Ryerson is not a traditional campus and this isn’t a traditional master plan,” said Marianna McKenna, a member of the team credited for the design. McKenna said this award will help support Ryerson’s transformation as a campus.

“It means that this plan has legs and will go the distance,” she said.

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