Ryerson University Student ServiceHub

Ryerson University’s Student ServiceHub is a 13,000sf interior renovation that transforms how students experience and engage with the crucial resources of their Registrar’s Office. As post-secondary institutions seek opportunities to improve and refresh their facilities, perhaps the newest development is the ‘one stop’ — a model of consolidating the registration and financial services that are often dispersed across a campus. Gow Hastings Architects helped Ryerson University to re-interpret their front-line service delivery as a ‘one-stop,’ centralized “ServiceHub.” We transformed a former cafeteria in a 1970s Brutalist building into a modern, 21st century space that strengthens and advances the Ryerson brand as a dynamic institution at the forefront of post-secondary education in Canada.

The bespoke design solution creatively brings student services to life: it establishes a branded environment that is bold and future-forward, featuring backlit touchdown bars with self-service stations, flexible lounge spaces, custom-designed tech-enabled furnishings, gleaming white surfaces, sparkling lighting, and a cool supergraphics aesthetic. The ServiceHub is reminiscent of a technology store or a design-savvy coffee shop, giving way to an interactive experience that aligns with the social habits of today’s digital native students. The space is organized into clear, distinguishable zones for reception, administration and lounge seating, fronting an informal area for eating and gathering that encourages collegiality. What was once an outdated 1970’s Brutalist interior now serves multiple-uses as a light-filled animated space where staff and students can meet, study, or dine.

The design embraces the pre-existing interior conditions to bridge the gap between old and new elements. Curved and angular walls, and a central, double-storey volume, break away from the building’s rectilinear gridlines, broadening the feeling of the space. Ring-shaped LED pendant lighting and round furniture balance out the space’s linearity. The environmental graphics work in tandem with key architectural and interior moves to produce a new visually-striking identity for the registrar’s office. he supergraphic wall provides dramatic contrast to the original béton brut walls, which were left exposed, to add visual interest and texture. Coloured, translucent screens, dynamic geometric shapes, and oversized typography animate the space, creating progressive differentiations between various areas of use, and between public and more private functions.

Functionally, Corian bars, tabletops, counters and wall panels, and computer monitors hidden behind mirrored glass, provide both durability and luminosity. Flexible furniture solutions—moveable desks that are easily storable in custom cabinetry—allow staff to reconfigure the administrative area to meet the changing use demands throughout the school year.

Ryerson University, Toronto, ON 
Size:  13,000 sq. ft.
Completion:  2015

The results of the renovation were nothing short of spectacular. The feedback from students and staff has been exceedingly positive, both in terms of aesthetics and function. From the original drawings, to furniture and finishes, to final outcome, the architects’ design excellence is evident.

Charmaine Hack, Ryerson’s University Registrar

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