We recently caught up with Molly Anthony, the acting director of Ryerson’s planning and development, to learn more about the upcoming changes to the university’s public realm and the City of Toronto’s plans to re-design Yonge Street.
What does your job at Ryerson entail?
I get to work with creative thinkers at Ryerson, developers, neighbouring land owners and community members on current and potential future urban planning projects, helping to find solutions to our space needs.
Why does our campus need a new and improved public realm?
Ryerson’s growth has fueled transformative change in our neighbourhood, building by building, project by project. The public realm work is intended to connect these buildings and enhance how Ryerson and the downtown community moves through and engages with our outdoor campus. Pedestrian safety and accessibility is a priority in the public realm plan implementation.
When will we start to see changes on campus?
We are procuring consultants now and are aiming for construction to start in Summer 2018.
The Yonge Street redesign project is also on the horizon. How might this affect Ryerson?
Increased pedestrian and safe, accessible space along Yonge, improvements to lighting and street furniture, active retail—these are all fantastic gains for the downtown community, which parallel and connect to our public realm efforts. Tens of thousands of students come in and out of Yonge Dundas Square and SLC buildings every week, and Yonge Street is an artery into and across our campus for Ryerson and non-Ryerson members, so we need to be very involved in these discussions, together with the City and BIA and other partners, especially on traffic and transit.
What’s something interesting about the Ryerson public realm plan that our readers might not know about?
Ryerson’s commitment and partnership with the City and other stakeholders in improving the public realm goes back decades. There are typewritten, archived layers of by-laws, easements, and participatory agreements that supported the transformation of Lake Devo and Nelson Mandela Walk in the 1970s. These all have to be unpacked as plans are developed for future changes. It’s kind of extraordinary!