Tickled pink: Ryerson Image Centre wins for use of colour

The new Ryerson Image Centre has won the 2012 AL Light & Architecture Design Award for Best Use of Colour.  The innovative building design by Diamond Schmitt Architects transforms an almost windowless former brewery warehouse – home to Ryerson University’s School of  Visual Arts – into a dynamic beacon that illuminates the campus and announces a new cultural destination in Toronto. 

The renovated and expanded building’s exterior has a double-skin glass cladding that conceals an LED lighting system.  At night, illuminated glass panels across three facades glow separately or in unison with a possible 16.7 million different colour combinations. By day, this opaque glass surface on the upper floors provides a seamless white backdrop to bustling campus life and contrasts the Centre’s transparent glazing at ground level.

Underscoring the importance of lighting to enhance the built environment, Elizabeth Donoff, editor of Architectural Lighting magazine, which sponsors the annual award, saya this year’s winners represent every sort of lighting challenge a designer could face: “The work shows moments of articulated restraint as well as moments of exuberant celebration.”
Active programming of the Ryerson Image Centre light installation will be commissioned to artists and students and even the public, who can create lighting sequences of their own using a Ryerson-designed app to interact and exert creative control over the building’s electronic canvas. To preview this capability, please see Ryerson Image Centre LED exterior.MOV on YouTube.
Donald Schmitt, principal with Diamond Schmitt Architects, says the lighting installation is a key feature of the building’s design and serves as an outward expression of the activity within the Centre: “The building’s envelope encourages experimentation and creation, which are fundamental to the pursuit of mastering the visual arts.”
“This achievement ‘shines the light’ on Toronto, Ontario and Canada in an exceptional way,” says  Ryerson University president Sheldon Levy.  “We look forward to welcoming researchers from around the world, students, artists and members of the community to our campus, and invite everyone to be part of this wonderful phenomenon.”
The Ryerson Image Centre opens this coming  September 29, and features state-of-the-art gallery, research and archive space dedicated to the photographic arts. It will also house the renowned Black Star Collection of close to 300,000 images of 20th-century photojournalism. 

Diamond Schmitt Architects (www.dsai.ca) is among the world’s top ten design firms for the cultural building sector.  An award-winning portfolio of opera houses, concert halls, libraries, academic, research and residential buildings includes the Regent Park Arts & Cultural Centre, La Maison Symphonique de Montréal and the New Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia.