"Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir the blood and probably will not be realized. Make big plans. Aim high in hope and work."
- Daniel Burnham, Chief Planner for the City of Chicago, 1909
Ryerson University is a dynamic institution at the forefront of post-secondary education in Canada. Located in the heart of Toronto - Canada's economic, academic, research and cultural capital - the University is changing dramatically and growing rapidly, both academically and physically.
Ryerson's Master Plan is a bold undertaking, a flexible framework to revitalize the campus and act as a catalyst for change and renewal in the unique downtown community surrounding the University. The project was announced by President Sheldon Levy in March 2006 in a major address to the Canadian Club. Two years later, the Master Plan was approved by Ryerson's Board of Governors. Read the Master Plan here (Part 1 and Part 2).
When President Levy announced the Master Plan, he outlined the University's pressing need for more quality space for students and more academic and research facilities in order to improve student engagement and experience, expand graduate studies and research, and build pride within the community. He shared a vision that recognizes no boundaries in the traditional sense between the University and its downtown neighbourhood. In declaring his intention to focus on 'the University as city-builder', President Levy said: "With energetic partnerships and great ideas, our aim is to move Ryerson and Toronto forward together."
Following a rigorous search process, Ryerson selected a team of four acclaimed Canadian firms, distinguished by their visionary leadership and reputation for excellence in architecture, urban planning, urban design, and economic analysis. The Master Planning Team of Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects and Daoust Lestage Inc. in association with Greenberg Consultants Inc. and IBI Group began its work in October 2006. Over an 18-month period, approximately 300 meetings, consultations and forums were held with Ryerson students, faculty, staff and alumni, the City of Toronto, the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area, the Yonge-Dundas Square Board of Management and other institutional and residential neighbours.
The Master Plan is a flexible, innovative framework that will guide future decisions about the growth of the University and its precinct. It is both visionary and practical. The Master Plan is shaped by Ryerson's commitment to excellence and sustainability, and the need to address its academic goals. It is not a building plan or an architectural plan, nor does it focus on the allocation of space within the University. Rather, it establishes three broad goals and a comprehensive set of principles that form a framework within which the University will evaluate future opportunities and make decisions about campus growth to benefit students, faculty and staff for decades to come.
The three goals of the Master Plan are:
- Urban Intensification
- People First: Pedestrianization of the Urban Environment
- A Commitment to Design Excellence
"Urban Intensification" focuses on reinventing the centre of the campus and building the vertical campus, to make efficient use of Ryerson's extremely limited land and the small and valuable properties on and around the University. One of the most important principles of urban intensification is providing transparency and accessibility at ground level, as well as programs that are conducive to social interaction, in order to enhance a strong sense of collegiality and community.
"People First" is about creating a pedestrian-friendly campus with green open spaces, informal meeting places, bike paths, and access to public transportation. A pedestrian-oriented University core provides an environment conducive to academic excellence and vibrant student life.
"Design Excellence" builds a commitment to design excellence for academic and student space into the evaluation of all future buildings and public spaces. It calls for the creation of inspirational learning and teaching environments that support the University's Academic Plan and provide a sense of belonging to a strong, vibrant academic community.
The first University building under construction since the launch of the Master Plan will be the Ryerson Photography Gallery and Research Centre. A dramatic glass building open and accessible to the community and public right in the heart of campus, the Ryerson Photography Gallery and Research Centre reflects the three goals of the Master Plan and also heralds the transformation of Gould Street into a pedestrian-friendly environment.
Another major new project for the University is a state-of-the-art Student Learning Centre, which will be located on the site of the former Sam the Record Man at the corner of Yonge and Gould Streets. The Student Learning Centre will give Ryerson a gateway onto Yonge Street and the opportunity to play a key role in redeveloping Toronto's main thoroughfare and downtown core. It will be designed and built to reflect the goals and principles of the Master Plan.