A huge asymmetrical, silver and blue cubed structure in the heart of down-town Toronto, Ryerson University’s Student Learning Centre is a dramatic visual break from Yonge Street’s usual architecture. Designed by Zeidler Partnership Architects of Toronto and the Norwegian firm Snøhetta, the new eight-story building is a long-awaited oppor-tunity for the university to open its campus to the city’s main thoroughfare.
“It’s a gateway to our campus, a direct connection to Yonge Street, but also it is a direct connection to the downtown community,” says Mohamed Lachemi, provost and vice-president academic at Ryerson. With three green roofs and a silver LEED designation, the building is also environmentally friendly.
But as unusual as it is on the exterior, it’s what’s on the interior that counts – and that’s where things get even more interesting. Each of the centre’s eight floors has its own personality. Students can enjoy everything from small study rooms to a large amphitheatre.
Students can even go to the “beach” – a large, open-concept space that encompasses the entire sixth floor. Terraced seating flows downward to a blue corner on the building’s exterior, much like sand sloping toward the water. Over-head, a large circular light mimics the sun.
“The building was designed in a way that each floor has a different cachet, a different configuration, a different colour. And each floor can serve a different purpose,” says Dr. Lachemi. The new learning centre also offers a digital media area, student learning support services and a café.
Students have been involved in the consul-tation process from the start, even choosing the furniture. Now, they’re free to arrange and rearrange the space to suit their needs. According to Dr. Lachemi, they’ve been doing exactly that since the centre’s opening on Feb. 20.
“From day one, I’d say from the first hour, the students really took over and started discovering. I can tell you it was a full house,” he says. “And they use the space in different ways, and that’s the beauty of it.”