“An important new cultural street in downtown Toronto”
I enjoyed a sneak peak of RIC’s main floor galleries and public areas during a media preview on Tuesday morning. Ryerson University president Sheldon Levy told a press conference that the university has literally been building on the energy and excitement that the legendary Sam the Record Man store originally brought to the corner of Yonge and Gould Streets. With RIC occupying a prominent spot right next door to Ryerson’s “Lake Devo” pond and skating rink, and the new Student Learning Centre currently under construction on the former site of the flagship Sam’s store, Gould is becoming “an important new cultural street in downtown Toronto,” Mr. Levy said.
(The university, Gould Street, the iconic music store and its founder have been prominent news topics this month. Record retailer Sam Sniderman died at the age of 92 last weekend, while earlier in September the media reported that Ryerson might not refurbish and display on campus the famous Sam the Record Man neon sign it agreed to restore when it purchased the record store site five years ago.The city had designated the sign as heritage property, but Ryerson is seeking alternative ways to commemorate the store since refurbishing the sign would cost $250,000. A story about Mr. Sniderman’s passing appears in the September 24 issue of the Globe and Mail, while reports on Ryerson’s recent revelation about the 380-square-foot neon sign appear in the September 24 online edition of the Toronto Star and the September 24 online issue of the National Post.)
“A crossroads between the university & the public realm“
Diamond Schmitt Architects principal Donald Schmitt described the goal of the new building design. “In connecting the academic program and the Ryerson Image Centre, we sought to create a crossroads between university life, graduate study and the public realm. A glazed ground floor unifies both programs and creates a welcoming presence, transforming the public square where the campus connects with the city. A transparent, accessible entrance with enormous photo murals marks the entry from the square.”
Mr. Schmitt added that the exterior lighting system makes the building itself a work of art. “This is a luminous façade for the 21st-Century, one that’s dynamic and colourful, can be played on with an app and a smart phone, and is made with light – the stuff of photography – to engage and represent this institute to the city,” he said.
$70 million centre is dedicated to photography & related disciplines
The Ryerson Image Centre cost $70.95 million to build. Funding for the project was provided by the federal and Ontario governments, fundraising and Ryerson University investment. The Centre will be open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays, and admission is free.
The university says the RIC “is dedicated to photography and related disciplines including new media, installation art and film,” and will be “an international centre of excellence for the exhibition, research and study of photography and image arts.” The RIC also is home to important image archives and photo collections, including the renowned Black Star Collection of 292,000 photojournalistic prints from the 20th Century, anonymously donated to the university in 2005.
The Centre’s inaugural exhibition, which runs from tonight until December 16, is Archival Dialogues: Reading the Black Star Collection. The RIC’s director, Doina Popescu, says the exhibit focusses on the Black Star Collection “as seen through the eyes of internationally-renowned Canadian contemporary artists Stephen Andrews, Christina Battle, Marie-Hélène Cousineau, Stan Douglas, Vera Frenkel, Vid Ingelevics, David Rokeby and Michael Snow.” Ms. Popescu describes the exhibition and Black Star Collection in greater detail in an introduction to Archival Dialogues.
Below are several more photographs by Tom Arban, showing the exterior of the RIC/School of Image Arts building. Click on each image to view the photo in a larger size. The images were provided courtesy of Diamond Schmitt Architects, which also made available an electronic flyer of before-and-after construction photos. Those are followed by photos I shot in and outside the building during the media preview earlier this week.
The RIC’s facade viewed from the west side of Lake Devo. Photo by Tom Arban
Multicoloured lighting on the RIC viewed from the northwest. Photo by Tom Arban.
A bold red light show on the RIC/School of Image Arts facade. Photo by Tom Arban.
A day view of the School of Image Arts & RIC, seen from the northeast. Photo by Tom Arban.
The Ryerson Image Centre entrance at the building’s northwest corner
Ryerson Image Centre facade viewed from the north on Gould Street
RIC and Lake Devo. Click on the photo to view a larger image
The RIC’s second-level windows are wrapped with larger-than-life reproductions of famous Black Star images, including these black and white photos of acclaimed Canadian pianist Glenn Gould and American boxer Muhammad Ali. Click on the photo to view a larger image.
Another view of the Black Star images of Glenn Gould and Muhammad Ali
Northwest view of the RIC entranceway
Events directory at the RIC main entrance. Click on photo to view a larger image.
Canadian artist David Rokeby, right, chats with a gallery visitor about his intriguing installation, Shrouded, which appears on the Salah J. Bachir New Media Wall inside the colonade entrance to the Ryerson Image Centre. Rokeby’s work reconstructs the way the human eye passes over an image and selectively views its details.
RIC director Doina Popescu studies the Rokeby installation
The entrance colonnade overlooks Lake Devo, a summertime pond and wintertime skating rink in the heart of the Ryerson University campus. Installations on the 16-foot-long Salah J. Bachir New Media Wall are visible from the street.
The gallery’s reception and information counter
The reception hall doubles as an exhibition space. Behind the glass wall at left is the Great Hall, a space for receptions, lectures, screenings and conferences.
A view of the reception hall from its northeast corner. The installation in the center of the room is the multimedia Conditional Report by Vid Ingelevics
The entrance to the Ryerson student and alumni gallery
Hallway leading to the Ryerson student and alumni gallery
Inside the student and alumni gallery
A reading room in the student and alumni gallery has windows overlooking Gould Street, which is a pedestrian zone on the Ryerson campus
A view of the student and alumni gallery from the reading room entrance
Inside the first gallery on the south side of the reception hall
An installation by multidisciplinary artist Vera Frenkel in the first gallery
A visitor studies Canadian artist Stan Douglas’s work, Demobilization Suit, 1945
At the left side of the room is the entrance to the next gallery …
… seen in this view from the hallway
Another view of the gallery
A visitor views Black Star images in the west gallery room
Another view of the west side of the gallery
A view of the full length of the west gallery space
Visitors explore exhibits in the west gallery
There is approximately 4,500 square feet of exhibition space in the RIC
Photographs on the west wall include Shel Hershorn’s Kennedy Assassination, a series of images of Lee Harvey Oswald in police custody in Dallas on November 22 1963.
Another look at the main gallery spaces. Click on the photo to view a larger image.
The two-channel installation The Blue Train, by interdisciplinary artist Vera Frenkel, features 32 portable video narratives
Reception hall view toward the glass-walled entrance colonnade
Entrance colonnade view of Lake Devo and other Ryerson University buildings
Artist David Rokeby chats with a gallery visitor admiring his work, Shrouded, on the Salah J. Bachir New Media Wall in the entrance colonnade