Waterfront warming station funded by Sheldon Levy


Digital rendering of the warming station designed by Lily Jeon and Diana Koncan. (Courtesy Lily Jeon)

It started out as a class assignment for two Ryerson architecture students and turned into an opportunity to showcase their design for all of Toronto — with some help from Sheldon Levy.

Levy gave the department of architectural science $15,000 to fund the construction of the winter warming hut design of fourth-year students Lily Jeon and Diana Koncan.

Organizers of the city’s Winter Station competition reached out to Ryerson to see if students would submit their designs for one of five structures that would transform lifeguard stations along Woodbine Beach in Toronto into inviting shelters.

Architecture professors Vincent Hui and Baruch Zone encouraged students in their classes to submit their ideas. Hui and other faculty members chose Jeon and Koncan’s installation as the winner.

With the price of labour and materials, building the design wasn’t going to be cheap. It was up to the Jeon and Koncan to find someone to foot the bill.

They turned to the Design Fabrication Zone (DFZ) for support. The DFZ gave the students access to the 3-D printing and laser-cutting technology for its construction.

But neither the students nor the department had the funding to purchase the materials required for the project.

That’s when the university president stepped in.

“Sheldon Levy … heard about this project and he found out that it was this inaugural event and an international competition and that we had a place at the table, so to speak, to have Ryerson showcased,” Hui said.

Levy approved the $15,000 funding required to build Jeon and Koncan’s winter station.

The money comes from a fund set aside by Ryerson’s ex-chancellor, the late Raymond Chang that supports “idiosyncratic” projects.

“These are (projects) that don’t fit in any particular category but it’s trying to make a difference in people’s lives,” says Levy.

“It’s really rare for design-build competitions to happen in Toronto,” Jeon said. “There are a lot of design competitions where you come up with a design and the best one is awarded a monetary prize … but rarely does it actually get built.”

Now that it’s getting built, Jeon and Koncan have to a lot of testing to do to see if their design can cope with the waterfront’s conditions.

“(The hut is) inspired by the shape of a pine cone … and the science of an igloo, which uses snow to insulate,” Jeon said. “It has these petals that gather snow and insulates the interior and creates a warm … shell.”

Jeon and Koncan hope to start work on the structure, called Snowcone, this week. Construction will take place in the architecture building with the help of 15 other students.

The winter stations are expected to open Feb. 16 and will be dismantled March 22.

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on Jan. 21, 2015.

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