Ryerson University Centre for Urban Innovation

Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Innovation in Toronto, by Moriyama & Teshima Architects, is a new facility where science research labs, fabrication, incubation, assembly spaces and commercial spaces come together to create real world applications for urgent urban issues. These collaborative spaces will support researchers and innovators with strong industry links to alternative energy, water management, food production, body metrics and human health, data analytics and urban infrastructure. State-of-the-art energy and water use systems will act as a living laboratory and object of study for CUI researchers.

The 5,970 m2 (64,260 square feet) project preserves the original heritage structure while inserting two new, interconnected buildings, three and five storeys in height. These purpose-built spaces will allow for zones dedicated to wet and dry lab research as well as research fabrication, incubation and commercialization. The project also provides places for researchers to mingle and share ideas by housing meeting rooms, lounge spaces and kitchenettes; common rooms shared between various research departments encourage awareness and exchange.

Reflecting the Centre’s spirit of efficiency, clarity, and exchange, a central four-storey sky-lit atrium encloses and bridges the original heritage building to the new addition. Each tier of the new volume features floor-to-ceiling glazing, allowing dynamic views into its lab spaces from every angle. Stepped seating on the north side of the atrium not only connects users to the second level, but also serves as an active space for gathering, studying and industry presentations.

The materiality and details of the addition are meant to convey a light touch and draw from the innovative nature of the Centre. The exterior cladding of the new additions primarily consists of aluminum expanded metal mesh; the contrast between the heritage building’s stone cladding and the newly introduced metal panels allow users to get a hint of the interior modernization and programming within. As users make their way through the building, the aluminum metal mesh panels are strategically used as feature ceilings; providing a subtle stark sheen that helps reiterate the scientific nature of the facility.

Active areas for each department are highlighted through the use of vibrant blue accents; from seat cushions and flexible soft seating modules in the main atrium space, to laboratory safety flooring, through to informal collaboration areas located on each floor. Blue metal archways spanning floor-to-ceiling were also created to help signify the transition between the heritage building and the new additions and act as a wayfinding feature at each of these critical points.

Overall, the project manages to preserve the history of the original structure while creating a seamless interior interface between the public and research activity. The building signals a new level of research excellence at Ryerson University and has become an interdisciplinary hub where ideas and collaborative research will thrive for both faculty and students.

Photography by Riley Snelling