Ryerson student residence design is under review]

Dennis Hanagan —

Toronto’s Design Review Panel has praise and misgivings about Ryerson University’s plan to build an academic and student residence tower on Church Street north of Dundas.

University representatives met the panel Nov. 13 to get feedback on the $104 million, 27-storey tower with 322 beds which they hope to have up and open by fall of 2018. It would require a rezoning application for increased density and height.

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The structure calls for an 8-storey podium with the residence tower above and a mechanical penthouse on top of that. There would be 3 to 4 basement levels. Ryerson conceives it as “a vertical campus.”

Andrew Frontini with Perkins+Will architects told the panel it would be “the cornerstone of future development in (the) precinct.”

Panel member and architect Meg Graham called the plan “a beautiful package” but she had concerns about the lower levels. She said there needs to be some way to bring down the scale of the lower section.

Colleague and landscape architect Sibylle von Knobloch found the massing on the Church St. side “rather imposing” while Jim Melvin, also a landscape architect, said he would like the project to offer more green space “which is at a premium here.”

Panel Vice-Chair and architect Michael Leckman said “I’m hearing from the panel there is concern about the base of the building.” He also raised the question about the project “impacting’ on the future development rights of landowners next to the site.

The roof of the podium would offer green space with native and drought tolerant species. Water collected from residence sinks and showers, called greywater, would be used for sewage conveyance on the podium.

The project calls for a 6-metre sidewalk on the Church Street side with six new trees. Markets and galleries could be potential uses on the ground floor. It would have 167 parking spaces and 237 spaces for bikes.

The project would bring together Ryerson’s four schools in the Faculty of Health Sciences. The site at 270-288 Church Street is currently a surface parking lot.