The recently rebuilt Ryerson School of Image Arts building was officially opened on Wednesday evening in front of a gathering of faculty and students. The expansion, designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects, pulls the existing building envelope right out to the street front, adds much needed department space to the Image Arts program, and provides new space with the soon-to-be-unveiled galleries of the Ryerson Image Centre. The new building features a much anticipated active LED facade designed to engage pedestrians with a lively expression of colour. 

Ryerson President Sheldon Levy Image Arts Centre Opening Ceremony TorontoRyerson President Sheldon Levy addressing faculty, friends, and students at the opening ceremony. Image by Craig White.

The new Image Arts building is just one of a handful of projects that comprise Ryerson's Master Plan which aims to revitalize the downtown campus. Ryerson President Sheldon Levy spoke about the progress that has been made so far, as well as highly anticipated additions to come. 

I can't even imagine anymore what the campus was like with cars on Gould Street. Now look at Gould Street today. What's interesting for me is that probably half of the population thinks this is normal, and in a short period of time it will be normal for all of us and that's quite remarkable. In the fall we are going to be officially opening the new Athletic Centre at the Gardens, and in two years it will be joined by the new Student Learning Centre right on Yonge, and not long after that we will open the new residence on Jarvis. Imagine a beautiful day like today when you have Balzac's open, the gallery open, people pouring in. You look towards Yonge Street and you see the jewel of the Student Learning Centre, and you begin to feel how things have changed.

The Image Centre project took about two and a half years to complete and was financially supported by a $33 Million contribution from the Federal and Provincial governments. Below is a reminder of what the original Image Arts building looked like not too long ago. Befire that it was the O'Keefe Brewery. The Bond Street facade sat well back from the street and offered little in the way of an inviting urban environment. 

School of Image Arts Ryerson original O'Keefe building facade TorontoOriginal brick facade of the School of Image Arts, before that the O'Keefe Brewery building. Image by EgnaroorangE on Flickr.

Here is what the same vantage point looks like today, along with a few more shots of the north and east facades. The second and third floors of the east facade feature new office spaces.  

Ryerson Image Centre exterior corner Gould Bond Street TorontoNorth east corner of the building viewed down Bond Street. Image by Dumitru Onceanu.

The space underneath the overhanging second floor will soon be home to a new Balzac's Coffee shop. The two floors above feature perimeter hallways the length of the building, as well as newly created public meeting spaces overlooking the street corner. 

Ryerson Image Centre exterior corner Gould Bond Street TorontoNorth east corner of the building viewed down Gould Street, showing newly created perimeter hallways. Image by Dumitru Onceanu.

Ryerson Image Centre exterior corner Gould Bond Street TorontoNorth east corner of the building showing newly created public lounge spaces. Image by Dumitru Onceanu.

Sitting well back from the street, the original building gave the architects a unique opportunity enlarge the space by simply creating a wraparound addition. Doing so meant that they could maintain the functionality of the existing spaces which featured high ceilings, a large sound stage, as well as other editing and teaching facilities, while at the same time creating a new building envelope that meets the street and engages the pedestrian in a more urban manner.

The interior spaces of the original building have been completely refurbished. The addition created a series of new perimeter hallways and successfully connects the two components in a seamless way.

Ryerson Image Centre perimiter hallway Gould Street TorontoPerimeter hallways offer views of the pedestrianized Gould Street. Image by Dumitru Onceanu.

Perimeter hallways are clad in floor to ceiling curtain walls offering views of Gould Street and the city beyond.

Ryerson Image Centre perimiter hallway Gould Street TorontoPerimeter hallways offer views of the pedestrianized Gould Street. Image by Dumitru Onceanu.

Behind the white interior walls of the hallway sits the original brick walls of the brewery building, cleanly disguised and re-integrated into the new contemporary design. In some areas the blank slate provides gallery-like display space for images and artifacts. The seamless integration means that one can be completely oblivious to the existence of the older building.

Ryerson Image Centre gallery space TorontoInterior walls of the newly created perimiter hallways offer plenty of gallery display space. Image by Dumitru Onceanu.

Ryerson Image Centre office space TorontoNewly created perimeter offices for staff. Image by Dumitru Onceanu.

These corner public spaces have quickly become favourite meeting spots for students and faculty. 

Ryerson Image Centre lounge space TorontoPublic meeting and lounge space overlooking the corner of Gould and Bond Streets. Image by Dumitru Onceanu.

Ryerson Image Centre lounge space TorontoPublic meeting and lounge space overlooking the corner of Gould and Bond Streets. Image by Dumitru Onceanu.

Ryerson Image Centre gallery meeting space TorontoPublic gallery and meeting space adjacent to the main floor atrium. Image by Dumitru Onceanu.

On the west facade, a peak at some of the colours that the active LED surface can produce. In experimenting with an interactive online application, the surface can display intense shades of red, blue, and green, as well as pretty much any colour of the spectrum in between. 

Ryerson Image Centre active LED wall TorontoActive LED wall displaying a shade of red. Image by Dumitru Onceanu.

Ryerson Image Centre active LED wall TorontoActive LED wall displaying a shade of green. Image by Dumitru Onceanu.

Ryerson Image Centre active LED wall TorontoActive LED wall displaying a shade of blue. Image by Dumitru Onceanu.

After sunset, we got an opportunity to test the first version of the online app with a few basic gestures. Watch as the display interprets our gestures and displays them in near real time. 

Right now the web app supports single-colour, single-gesture interactions. Future versions may allow for multi-touch, multi-colour interactions.

Want to put the new display wall through its paces? Head down to the corner of Gould and Victoria with your smartphone or tablet, pull up the Ryerson Lights web app in your browser, and draw away! 

Coming September 29th, and coinciding with this year's Nuit Blanche festival, Ryerson will open the adjacent 4500 square feet of gallery spaces in the Image Centre, and will host its inaugural display of the famous Black Star photographic collection entitled Archival Dialogues. Stay tuned for more information.  

What do you think of the new addition to Ryerson's campus? Leave your comments bellow, and join the discussion in the project thread