Ryerson library entrance to get new look, accessibility prioritized

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By Elizabeth Sargeant

With an Indigenous architecture firm to increase Indigenous presence in the new library entrance.

“The library is the academic heart of campus and core to the scholarship, research, and creative activities mission of the university,” chief librarian Carol Shepstone said in a statement.

The team enlisted Two Row Architects, an Indigenous architectural firm, to redesign and remodel the entrance. It was selected by a team of Ryerson students, according to Shepstone.

Two Row will work in partnership with Gow Hastings Architects, a firm which employs some Ryerson alumni.

Riley Kucheran, an Ojibway graduate student and Indigenous Advisor at Ryerson University, was part of the team who chose the firm.

“Two Row made a compelling case for both honouring Indigenous principles while responding to the realities of an urban campus that’s tight on space,” he said.

“Two Row made a compelling case for honouring Indigenous principles”

“Indigenous perspectives on ways of interacting with each other and engaging with space can benefit all students.”

Kucheran said he hopes the Indigenous presence will create a safer and more positive space for students to learn.

“It’s about building respectful spaces where everyone is welcome, spaces where we can relax, reflect and heal, and spaces that are connected to the earth,” said Kucheran.

“As the shared place of learning and idea exchange on campus, we know a quality university library is essential to students and their success,” Shepstone said.

Located on the corner of Victoria and Gould streets, the Ryerson library offers research support, workshops and specialized programming, according to the Ryerson library website.

Shepstone said  the redesign of the entrance is just the first step in remodelling the library.

“A desire to transform the library tower entrance has been raised at different points over the past few years, as there is a need to improve accessibility within and entering the building and library, include Indigenous place making, ways of knowing and design and improve access to library services and programs,” she said.

Another goal for the remodelling of the entrance is to create a heightened sense of security, she said.

“I hope the library entrance redesign sets a precedent for how buildings are designed”

“I want to make sure all concerns are addressed and we take a human-centred approach that embraces universal design principles,” said Kucheran.

Students and Ryerson community members were invited to take part in the creative process of remodelling the entrance. The Aboriginal Initiatives Office and booths at the library began holding consultations on Feb. 25 and wrapped up March 15.

“Indigenous presence means a focus on holistic wellness: ensuring that the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual needs of students are met,” said Kucheran. “I hope the library entrance redesign sets a precedent for how all new buildings on Ryerson are designed.”

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