Ryerson Student Learning Centre

ARCHITECT Zeidler Partnership Architects in joint venture with Snøhetta
LOCATION Toronto, Ontario

Located at the northeast corner of Yonge and Gould Streets in downtown Toronto, the new eight-storey Ryerson University Student Learning Centre (SLC) will mark Ryerson’s new face on Yonge Street and provide a gateway to the ever-expanding Ryerson community. Featuring an elevated plaza and glass façade with bridges to the existing library, the SLC is home to a range of academic, study and collaborative spaces for Ryerson’s students, faculty and staff. Yonge Street frontage will feature destination retail at and below grade, creating a prominent storefront and continuing the commercial fabric of the street. 

Each level will have a distinctive character–some will be open and interpretive with flexible furniture, while others will have enclosed study rooms dividing the floors into various configurations. The 6th-floor “beach” will be open with terraced seating, ramps and furniture defining the casual study areas while the 7th-floor “forest” will be divided by a wall of study rooms into quadrants to encourage independent quiet study and contemplation.

The program required establishing an educational building with an iconic presence on a commercial street known for its billboards and advertisement. To achieve this, the building has two faces: a retail face at grade along Yonge Street, and a series of stairs, ramps and seating areas which form a public plaza and the entry to the SLC.

The lightweight transparent high-performance glass skin will feature a surface design that will vary lighting intensity within the interior space. While the concrete structure is visibly rugged and heavy, the glass skin of the building will be lightweight and transparent. A frit pattern emphasizes this delicate nature, while also creating varying lighting qualities within the interior. The fritted coating also acts to improve the shading coefficient and to increase thermal comfort and provide glare control. This will allow students to find a place to study that could be in direct sunlight or under more diffused lighting conditions.

Construction on the building is expected to begin early next year, with a targeted completion date of Winter 2014.

WF Delicately clad glass fritted façades overlaid on a robust concrete armature. It announces and animates the entry to the Ryerson campus. A series of spatially interleaved floors animates the adjacent library that it supports. It gives life and renewed purpose to the existing building and proposes a new suite of spaces to support a range of learning options in a very public way.

DN The building seems to work as a gateway to the campus, and the materiality of the transparent glass skin, fritted with intriguing patterns, offers interesting views into the building, which will be welcome along this portion of Yonge Street. It will serve as a great visual portal into the activities of the student centre, opening up the university to the city.

PS Not all university campuses have the privilege of giving shape and energy to their downtown cores. There are a handful in Canada that, through location alone, can extend their campuses beyond the gates and into the city. I am drawn here by the serious investment that Ryerson is making to its neighbourhood. From sheer energy and density of activity alone, the Learning Centre will transform Toronto’s Dundas Square into a hybrid civic and campus commons. The building itself is richest in its sectional composition where it seems to unfold the city into its complex of interior spaces. I am intrigued by the project’s mandate to expose real-time energy consumption in a way that brings occupants and machines as close together as the dashboard of a car. The high-performance glass skin will mediate between site and occupancy into a performance that is at once mechanical and artistic. Moves like these seem to transpose the elements and discourse of energy management squarely into the discipline of architecture where it should reside. 

CLIENT Ryerson University
ARCHITECT TEAM Zeidler: Vaidila Banelis, Tarek El-Khatib, Mike Smith, Mitsuru Delisle, Dennis Rijkhoff. Snøhetta: Craig Dykers, Michael Cotton, Michael Loverich, Jon Kontuly, Anne-Rachel Schiffmann, Carrie Tsang, Samuel Brissette, Misako Murata, Siobhan Rockcastle, Fred Holt.
STRUCTURAL Halcrow Yolles
CIVIL RV Anderson
ACOUSTICS Aercoustics
PLANNING Bousfields
AREA 155,460 ft2
COMPLETION January 2014