Ryerson University Paul H. Cocker Architecture Gallery

The new Paul H. Cocker Architecture Gallery, Gow Hasting’s latest upgrade to Toronto’s Ryerson University’s Department of Architectural Science building is a small architectural insertion with a dramatic presence.

Directly opposite the main entrance, in a space formerly occupied by a storage room, the gallery pushes into Ron Thom’s Brutalist lobby introducing a gleaming white palette to the heavy concrete and quarry tile interior. It also introduces a focal point amidst the complex geometries of beams, columns and staircases. In contrast to these raw orders, the gallery adds carefully crafted detailing and a contemporary sensibility.

Oversized, glass pivot doors draw students and faculty through a deep, felt-wrapped threshold and into the fresh white gallery space. As the doors swing open, they create a dramatic entry and a kinetic experience. Thin, white porcelain floor tiles extend beyond the threshold into the lobby, announcing the transformed space.

The gallery is its own independent unit, pulling away from the existing elements by way of vertical windows. It extends beyond its perceived boundaries, provocatively snagging space in the graduate student lab behind. Wrapped in jaunty red felt with stainless steel detailing and joined with a jeweler’s precision, the backside of the gallery is as distinctive as the front. Its felt wall offers itself as a warm, textural surface, an acoustic material and a pin-up space. Functional and playful all at once, this move reminds students that a modest interior intervention can create memorable architecture through creativity and fine craftsmanship.

Inside the gallery, the back wall is faceted into flat sections to maximize the mountable display area. A flexible lighting and hanging system enables the space to be completely reinterpreted with each new show. The exposed ceiling and columns of the gallery preserve the height of the original structure and nod to the space’s transformation. Strategically placed slot windows provide sneak peeks into the gallery from an array of prominent public spaces. A feature wall beside the gallery entrance  is designed as an illuminated lantern that will integrate innovative student work from Ryerson’s digital fabrication lab.

The thoughtfully crafted architecture gallery breathes clarity into the chaotic environment of Ryerson’s Architectural Science building. The small gesture creates a large impact by providing the school with an adaptive space for exhibition and events.

Ryerson University, Toronto, ON
Size:  58,000 sq. ft.
Completion:  2013

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