Less a building than a container of raw space, Ryerson’s spectacular new Student Learning Centre offers a glimpse into a future where architecture is the start of a process that users must finish.
The eight-storey structure, which opened this week at the corner of Yonge and Gould Sts., is the city’s latest architectural landmark, a building whose abstract fritted windows, blue aluminum ceilings and canted concrete columns make it impossible to ignore.
Designed by Norwegian/American architectural firm Snohetta with Toronto’s Zeidler Partnership, Ryerson’s latest addition is a place of infinite possibilities. Every day, it will be made and remade by students as they rearrange the furniture, sit singly or gather in groups, talk noisily or whisper softly and generally reorganize things in their own image.
Architecture here is used as a way to create potential, not limit it. After all, the very idea of a learning centre means different things to different people, often at the same time.
Ryerson chief librarian Madeleine Lefebvre calls it “the library of the 21st century.” The only problem with that is that there isn’t a book in the house. On the other hand, maybe the “21st century” part of the description takes care of that. Books — 500,000 of them — can still be found in Kerr Hall next door; today, of course, students need look no farther than their laptop. ….