This is a project close to my hometown, in Toronto, a new Student Learning Centre for Ryerson University, designed by Zeidler Partnership and (one of my favs) Snøhetta.
While the outside is all angular and kinda sculptural and opens to the street and creates access to lower level retail and has a nifty patterned glass enclosure, it’s the interior where the real meat of the design happens.
And it starts with, as this section shows, a decided avoiding of having every single floor be exactly the same height, or even be level at all. Some floors are tall, some are more squat, and sometimes a level dips down or angles upward to encroach into the spaces above/below. In this way, each floor – each given their own evocative name such as Garden, Sun, Beach, or Sky – is molded to what is needed to support its use.
The building really sings in the vertical, with levels and spaces opening into each other to create connections and a sense of connectedness, while stairs, hallways, and atriums serve dual purpose with impromptu meeting areas and amphitheatre seating.
Easily both my favourite as well as that of the students, the Beach level exemplifies this with flair. Starting at a wood “deck”, a series of ramps (that double as seating) slope down beach-like towards a blue carpeted “pool” nestled against copious amounts of the fritted glass. And, of course, there is plenty of beach furniture to be had, and to be re-arranged as the students would like and need to study, to collaborate, or just chill in the midst of their day. (A far cry better than the rough and tumble tile-lined box with harsh steel furniture we had in our university centre…)
The other floors follow in various fashions. The Garden and Sun levels seem only to match their colour scheme to their names, but the Sky level culminates with a roofline that soars upwards, casting views and light towards the, well, sky.
All in all, an nifty design. If anyone goes to Ryerson please ping me, I’d really enjoy checking it out next time I’m back home.