March 7, 2008
by Canadian Architect
Toronto-based Diamond and Schmitt Architects’ design concept for the new Ryerson Photography Gallery and Research Centre has been unveiled, heralding the transformation of Gould Street with a dramatic glass building open and accessible to the community and the public, right in the heart of the Ryerson campus.
The 1,860-square-metre Ryerson Photography Gallery and Research Centre is part of an expansion and redesign of the existing School of Image Arts building at 122 Bond Street. The focal point of the renovated ground floor is the new public gallery, which will house and display the University’s world-renowned Black Star Historical Black & White Photography Collection, as well as the many collections in the School’s Mira Godard Study Centre. An additional new 1,200 square metres of study, teaching and academic space will be built by maximizing the available footprint of the building, creating light-filled study and communal gathering places for students, and expanded space for faculty and staff.
The School of Image Arts building will be reclad in glass. A new extended colonnade will signal the Gallery entrance overlooking Lake Devo, one of the most popular public spaces on campus. The ground floor will include a caf to attract students and passersby, and a new transparent entrance to the facility.
“We have designed a Photography Gallery and Research Centre for Ryerson University which will undoubtedly be a shining star in the city’s cultural firmament,” said Donald Schmitt, principal-in-charge, Diamond and Schmitt Architects.
Ryerson’s Black Star Historical Black & White Photography Collection is considered the most significant cultural contribution ever made to a Canadian university. The gift was accompanied by a $7-million financial contribution, which will be put towards construction of the Ryerson Photography Gallery and Research Centre. In addition, Ryerson will launch a fundraising campaign to seek a naming donor for the facility, and to solicit support for other elements of the project such as exhibits and programs.
“The Ryerson Photography Gallery and Research Centre will provide exceptional opportunities for collaboration with academic and artistic communities around the world,” said Dr. Daniel Doz, Dean, Faculty of Communication & Design. “The new facility also allows us to expand program development and scholarship in related fields such as photojournalism, documentary imaging, social and political history, and cultural investigation.”
The Ryerson Photography Gallery and Research Centre will be the first University building under construction since the launch of Ryerson’s Master Plan, a flexible framework for growth and revitalization of the campus, and a catalyst for renewal of the surrounding downtown neighbourhood. The building design reflects the major themes of the Master Plan: intensification, making efficient use of small and valuable urban properties; “people first” with a focus on creating a pedestrian-friendly campus including open green spaces and informal meeting places; and design excellence, a commitment to new and inspirational academic and student spaces.
Ryerson is currently searching for a Director of the Gallery and Research Centre, who will lead the academic, administrative, exhibit and outreach functions for the facility. The Director will be a cultural ambassador for Ryerson University, responsible for creating an international profile for the Gallery and Research Centre, and assuming a visible and active role in the cultural life of Ryerson and the city.