Ryerson’s landmark building

Ryerson University unveiled plans Wednesday for a 1,860 square metre Photography Gallery and Research Centre which will house an expanded School of Image Arts, and the historically significant Black Star photo collection.

The building, designed by architecture firm Diamond and Schmitt, will be a landmark designed to attract the Toronto community to the university campus to enjoy the cultural amenities of the university. The Ryerson Photography Gallery and Research Centre is the first building to be built as part of the university’s new plan. A key component of the plan is better integration of the university into the wider Toronto community.

“The realization that the extent that we can make Toronto a better place, we are also helping Toronto,” say Sheldon Levy, President of Ryerson University. “It will be a public gallery and research centre which will attract the best students and faculty.”

The main attraction in the new building will be the Black Star photo collection. “We were given the largest cultural gift in the history of Canada,” says Levy of the collection. The donation of the collection included $7-million to assist in building a gallery to house the collection.

“The 300,000 images [in the collection] have a great deal of historical importance, especially to the United States,” says Levy. The Canadian Embassy in Washington will be hosting a major reception in Washington, D.C. in May when part of the collection will be displayed in the US capital.

The collection includes photographs of most 20th century American presidents, including some of the most significant photographs of President Kennedy and his brother Robert Kennedy. The collection also includes rare photographs from the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission.

“We hold some of the most important pieces of photographic journalism,” says Levy of the collection. One of the main reasons that the collection needs the new building is the collection’s historical value requires they be displayed with security measures in place to prevent theft.

The cost of the new building is not yet known. Levy says that the project is still in the tendering process. The university will launch a fundraising campaign in the near future and is looking for a naming donor to give between $5 to 10-million to assist in the building of the centre.