The Ryerson Image Centre houses several image arts programs. PHOTO: JESS TSANG

Rye recognized for building design excellence

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By Emily Rivas

Ryerson recognizes no boundaries between campus and city grounds, but the university’s students and their latest building projects were what caught the eye of the jury at the Toronto Urban Design Awards (TUDA) last week when they presented the school with four awards.

At TUDA, a jury of urban visionaries awards the buildings or projects that add to the aesthetic and livability of the city.

Of the 125 entries this year, the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) at the Gardens, Ryerson Image Arts building (IMA) and two groups of students all took home awards of merit for Public Buildings in Context and Student Projects, respectively.

“Even though it was anonymous to the jury, I recognized those buildings and I think people recognized the quality of work that’s being done through the Master Plan and through the initiatives of Ryerson,” said Marianne McKenna, jury member of TUDA and founding partner of Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects.

The plan outlines the proposals for more space and academic research facilities for students.

Ryerson University president Sheldon Levy is honoured by the achievement.

“Obviously I’m very proud not only of these two [building] awards but the two awards going to students [as well],” said Levy.

The TUDA jury looks for design influence, originality in urban design and context that contributes to the public. With the IMA hosting Balzacs, a student lounge and the Black Star collection, McKenna said it “impacts the public realm and it gives back to Ryerson and to the city in many ways.” Gerd Hauck, dean of the faculty of communication and design said, “Any time you receive an award by a group of peers, it’s a good thing. I know for a fact we have a strong reputation.” Ryerson’s project with Turner Fleischer Architects Inc. at the MAC was seen as being “creatively adapted by Ryerson,” said jury member and partner at Urban Strategies, Eric Turcotte.

Ryerson’s Master Plan is ongoing, but Turcotte thinks the school’s next step lies in new ideas.

Since Aug. 2012, the athletic centre has been the new home of the Ryerson Rams. However, McKenna doesn’t think that the intersection of Carlton and Church streets has lost any of its historical value. McKenna said the adaption of reusing buildings is a progressive movement.

“It gives Maple Leaf Gardens a life beyond its original purpose.” Melody Taghi-Poor, a masters of architecture student, was awarded for her project “In Search of Place” for the Toronto Harbourfront, which proposed an underground walkway between Toronto mainland and Billy Bishop Airport. Another group of architecture students under the direction of professor George Kapelos was awarded for “An Architecture of Civility,” a project that creates solutions to civil challenges at 16 Toronto sites.

“Ryerson is invisible but integrated within urban fabric,” said Turcotte. “As they continue to grow, they’ll need to find creative ways for subtle integration from a physical point of view.” Since Levy announced Ryerson’s Master Plan in 2006, the school has completed two of its major projects: construction of the IMA and the construction of the MAC at Maple Leaf Gardens in partnership with Loblaw Companies Limited.

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