In 2008, Ryerson president Sheldon Levy referred to the newly-acquired Student Learning Site as a Ryerson’s “gateway onto Yonge Street.” What did he mean by this gateway? Can a building really be a gateway?
A gate can be a physical demarcation; it can define and divide space. It can create a sense of order. A gate can be a division but also a connection. What kind of gate will the Student Learning Centre be? One that promotes or prohibits the movement of people, or both? Who or what will monitor this gateway onto campus, and what criteria will they use to include and exclude?
As mentioned, in medical terms, you can compare Yonge Street to an Aorta of sorts, because it joins together all aspects of social activity in the city. Just as arteries both withdraw oxygen and dispel carbon dioxide, shops and services on Yonge Street take up valuable space, but also contribute to the social and cultural makeup of Toronto. By creating an entrance or gateway onto Yonge Street, social and cultural life is transmitted into Ryerson from Toronto’s downtown core, just as Toronto’s downtown core is synchronized with the wisdom and knowledge-centre of a university.
Sheldon Levy referred to this phenomenon in his address “Universities as City Builders”.