The new Ryerson Image Centre has won the 2012 AL Light & Architecture Design Award for Best Use of Colour. The 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, said 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.
The Ryerson Image Centre opens on September 29, 2012, 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.