Ryerson U gets a new iconic building

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Zeidler Partnership Architects of Toronto and Snøhetta, based in Oslo and New York, have teamed up to design a new Student Learning Centre for Ryerson University in downtown Toronto.

The new eight-storey building will take up residency at Yonge and Gould streets, only one block north of Yonge Dundas Square, Toronto’s busiest and most chaotic intersection. The centre’s most striking features include a transparent lace-like skin that wraps around on all four sides, and an outdoor amphitheatre-like entry that invites students to sit outside and intermingle with pedestrian street traffic.

According to today’s press release, “the centre will offer a variety of creative learning environments and every floor will have its own personality; some will be open and interpretive with flexible furniture and terraces, while others will be densely filled with enclosed study rooms for groups of four to eight people. Space will also be available for independent, quiet study.”

Construction on the building is expected to begin later this year, with a targeted completion date of 2014. Half of its roof will be planted – a major feature that will help the project achieve LEED silver compliancy.

In creating the main entrance, which is defined by a stepped plaza-like space that invites students and tourists alike to have a seat and take in the streetscape, Snøhetta may have drawn inspiration from its own Oslo Opera Centre. Among the firm’s most recognized projects, that building attracted international attention when it was completed in 2007. And one of its most dramatic features is a sloping rooftop plane that functions as an open public space and leads directly into Oslofjord Bay.

But Snøhetta has graduated to a slew of impressive projects in recent years. Co-founder Craig Dykers, who heads up the New York office, is overseeing the 9/11 museum at Ground Zero that’s expected to open next year. And the firm has been selected to overhaul Times Square – a major reconstruction project that’s now underway. Dykers was also a jury member for Azure‘s first annual AZ Awards.

The Toronto-based firm Zeidler Partnership Architects has a long-standing reputation as one of the city’s most prolific firms, and one with an international reach. It’s also working on a variety of high-profile buildings, perhaps most notably among them Toronto’s Trump International Hotel and Tower and the Helix twin residential towers in Abu Dhabi, where they’ve just opened an office.

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