Ryerson projects lag behind

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By Mariana Ionova
News Editor

Between the School of Image Arts, the Maple Leaf Gardens and the Student Learning Centre, Ryerson is busy transforming the campus.

But not everything is going smoothly.

One of Ryerson’s most challenging projects has been the renovation of the School of Image Arts. The project aims to expand the space by 14,000 square feet and include a Ryerson Gallery and Research Centre. The deadline for the project was originally set for this fall but it has been pushed back until next September.

The reason for the delay is that those involved underestimated the “complexity of changing a brewery into a gallery,” Levy said.

“We kept on saying to ourselves ‘it would have been easier just to knock down this building and start again,’” Levy said. “And maybe, if we could move the clock all the way back, we may have done that.”

Levy added that the project is back on schedule and he is confident it will be completed for the upcoming school year.

The university has also faced some complications with the construction of the Stu dent Learning Centre, a project that consists of building a 10-story, 160 000 square foot library that connects to the Dundas subway station.

But the project is still in the planning stages and construction has yet to begin.

“The very early design ideas for the Student Learning Centre are now emerging, leading towards a construction start in 2011 and a completion in 2013,” Ian Hamilton,director of Campus Planning and Facilities, said in an email.

Connecting the SLC to the subway has been a major contributor to the slow start, according to Levy.

“Where is the subway going, are we going to spend the money to tunnel underneath Gould Street to connect to the Student Learning Centre, who pays for that – all of this is a very complex discussion,” Levy said.

Ryerson is also working to complete the $60 million redevelopment of Maple Leaf Gardens, which will house the Ryerson Sports and Recreation Centre and a streetlevel Loblaws store.

The MLG redevelopment is not only Ryerson’s most high profile project, but it also has the most rigid deadline.

Since the federal government’s $20 million contribution to the project is a part of its infrastructure stimulus fund, it came with a condition that requires the facilities to be largely completed by March 2011.

“It’s always been a tight deadline but we’re still inclined to meet that deadline,” Chris O’Reilly, a partner at BBB Architects and one of the chief architects for the project.

But Levy said that it is difficult to envision a site that was still undergoing excavation until a few weeks ago will be complete by next March.

“This ship in the bottle will start forming but, when you look there, you think and shake your head and say ‘you must be smoking something really dangerous,’” Levy said.

It may seem that pressure to complete the MLG threatens to take focus away from Ryerson’s other developments but Levy insists that won’t happen.“The resources are different, the groups working on it are different, there’s lots of problems but that isn’t one of them, I can assure you.”

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