February 3, 2007
by Canadian Architect
Toronto-based architects Diamond + Schmitt will design the new gallery and research centre at Ryerson University that will house the Black Star Photography Collection. Partner Donald Schmitt is the architect in charge of the Ryerson project, which includes the Mira Godard Study Centre and exhibit spaces that are accessible from the street on the downtown Toronto campus.
“It will be a place of stories told by the images of people who have played a role in the history of the 20th century. It is our role as architects and co-ordinators of the design team to create a place where these stories are conserved and brought to life,” Schmitt said.
Diamond and Schmitt Architects were selected based on experience, creativity and involvement in both the cultural and educational sectors. Eleven other architects had bid on the job, and Ryerson University president Sheldon Levy said that “Diamond + Schmitt were chosen after a rigorous selection process. The team is ideal for a project that integrates teaching, research, study and gallery activities into one world-class facility. The gallery and research centre will provide an optimum learning environment for our graduate and undergraduate students, and will be a wonderful addition to our downtown Toronto community.”
The $8-million project will add new gallery, exhibition, research, study and storage spaces to the building that houses the university’s School of Image Arts. The Black Star collection of close to 300,000 original black-and-white photos was donated to Ryerson, home to Canada’s largest photography school, in 2005. The anonymous donor also gave $7 million for its “preservation, study and exhibit.” The photos are from the archives of the Black Star photojournalism agency and include images taken by famed photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Other projects by Diamond + Schmitt include the Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario; Detroit’s Symphony Orchestra Hall; The Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre in Medicine Hat, Alberta; and the Weston Family Innovation Centre at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto. Established in 1975, the firm has received six Governor General’s Awards for architecture and has worked with public and private sector clients from around the world.