The future of O’Keefe is still unknown…

Photo by Samantha Cumerlato.

O’Keefe House residence has been a fixture at Ryerson for 55 years, but there will be no fresh faces moving in to 137 Bond St. next fall.

There will be no 56th move-in day — the bunk beds will stay empty, and the cement stairs will be spared the weight of heavy suitcases.

The university said Tuesday that the O’Keefe building will no longer be serving as a residence in the fall of 2018, when new students would normally move in.   

Ian Crookshank, the director of housing and residence life, said that one of the big reasons is financial.

“The challenge with a building as small as O’Keefe is that the population in that building is quite small,” said Crookshank. “What we found over the last little bit is any time there’s been an issue — a pipe bursts, as an example — the building doesn’t pay for itself.”

Another factor in the decision to no longer keep O’Keefe as a residence building comes with the addition of the HOEM residence building at 186 Jarvis St., which will have 30 floors compared to O’Keefe’s three, and 593 rooms.

“We needed O’Keefe for so many years because we have such a deficit in terms of the number of beds we can offer to prospective and returning students,” Crookshank said. “We knew we were adding residence space, which would alleviate some of the pressure that we feel in terms of the amount of demand for the space that we have.”

Although Crookshank said that the exact details of what the O’Keefe building will be used for are still being decided, the 163-year-old building will not be torn down.

“That use would be something that would serve students first and foremost in some capacity, so it won’t turn into office space. It will be something that will directly impact students on campus,” he said.

The building is, perhaps, a nostalgic symbol of the past. At 163 years old, and only three floors with 33 students, it represents a small community within the larger campus.

Crookshank said he hopes it can still have a large impact on students.

“We felt the best course of action for the building, and our university moving forward, was perhaps a use that would have more impact on the community, from the standpoint of the number of students it can impact,” Crookshank said.

 

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