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A digital monument in the heart of campus

By Will Sloan

RyeLights

The RyeLights initiative plays with the digital façade on the Ryerson Image Centre and School of Image Arts building.

The Ryerson Image Centre and School of Image Arts building are getting colourful. RyeLights is a new initiative that allows Ryersonians to request the light panels on the building be lit specific colours highlighting important events and causes in the heart of the campus.

The project was the brainchild of Dave Colangelo, a Ryerson Communication and Culture graduate who did his PhD on large-scale media façades from around the world. “I’ve studied this pretty extensively, and we’re basically the only school that I know of that has this kind of system already available on campus,” said Colangelo.

He pitched an idea to Ryerson’s administration: what if Ryersonians could request the colours they wanted the building to be lit, to represent causes and special events relevant to the community? “We’re hoping that we’ll be able to reflect a diversity of interests back to the school community through the lights,” said Colangelo. “It’s kind of like a digital monument.”

The initiative draws inspiration from buildings like the CN Tower and monuments like City Hall’s Toronto sign, which have also lit up to celebrate major events… and gone viral on social media in the process.

Surprisingly, RyeLights is the first initiative of its kind on a university campus. “The new and special thing about it is the digital aspect,” said Colangelo. “That allows us to change the colour of the lights at will, and basically have a diversity of interests be reflected at that scale, with visibility and importance at the heart of the school. It’s wonderful that we’re at a point now where we’re actually going to be animating that with the energy of the school itself, and the diverse interests and causes and talents.”

Lighting proposals can be submitted by anyone from the Ryerson community at least 30 days in advance, and reviewed by a committee for approval (timeliness, campus relevance and inclusivity are factors). Recently, the façade was lit green to highlight Mental Wellbeing Week. “We’re hoping to set up a webcam so that we can serve up an image of the building in whatever lighting configuration has been requested,” added Colangelo.

To find out how to make a RyeLights request, go to ryerson.ca/ryelights. Ryersonians are also invited to use the hashtag #RyeLights on social media.