Ryerson University has hired Perkins+Will to design the building that will replace the parking lot at 300 Church St. at a price tag of $84-million.
Julia Hanigsberg, vice-president of administration and finance at Ryerson, said contributing to the revitalization and design process of the Church Street development is an important job for the school.
“Ten years from now, Church Street is going to look very different than it looks now and, so, we really want to be a part of that,” she said. “We’re really thinking very hard in this project about public realm … how does it increase the liveliness and safety of the street?”
Hanigsberg said last year’s opening of the Mattamy Athletic Centre at Church and Carlton Streets made Church Street an important access point for the school, extending the university’s campus footprint farther north.
Ryerson opened the MAC in the Maple Leaf Gardens in August 2012, furthering its presence on the street alongside the interior design, engineering, architecture and student housing buildings.
“It really made us realize we need to pay attention to Church Street,” she said.
Church Street has likewise been paying attention to Ryerson’s evolution on the street.
“It’s quite clear that Ryerson is moving north,” said Robert Fabian, member of the Church Wellesley Neighbourhood Association.
Fabian said he sees Church-Wellesley Village as being the future student neighbourhood attached to Ryerson.
“Church-Wellesley could become the Greenwich Village of Ryerson, the same way the Greenwich Village is the Greenwich Village of New York University,” he said.
In Fabian’s view, Church-Wellesley and Ryerson ought to be natural allies, with the MAC being the point of contact between the ’hood and campus. Still, he sees a challenge in how exactly the two sides will integrate.
“Is it the gate that protects Ryerson or is it the gateway which invites participation in both directions?” he said.
Although he said he would like to see more interaction between both neighbourhoods, Fabian said Ryerson’s Church Street development is too far south to be an immediate concern for the Church-Wellesley Village.
Ian Gemmell, president of the McGill-Granby Village Residents Association, said although the new building won’t directly interact with his neighbourhood, any new development on Church Street will be a positive improvement to the street.
“Church Street itself has been a bit of a dead zone for a few years,” he said.
The new development will house the Daphne Cockwell school of nursing, the school of nutrition, the school of occupational and public health, the midwifery program and a student residence.
It is expected to be finished in the fall of 2018.
This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on September 18, 2013.