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Public Realm

As Ryerson grows, we must continue to provide an engaging network of public spaces that promote a vibrant, welcoming, inspiring and harmonious campus life for our students, employees and the broader community.

The vision and framework for meeting that goal is outlined in the PDF fileRyerson University Campus Public Realm Plan. This document provides the vision for Ryerson as a leading innovation university and city builder, and serves as a resource of tools to implement that vision. It sets out flexible guidelines for improving our public spaces that prioritize safety, accessibility and quality of place; and supports our Master Plan Principles, including priorities such as pedestrianization, design excellence and taking a People First approach.

Frequently asked questions

Find out more about the Ryerson University Campus Public Realm Plan, including current and future plans to implement its proposed projects.

Ryerson defines the public realm as the publicly accessible, exterior campus spaces, including streets, pathways, right-of-ways and parks – the spaces where our community moves, meets and celebrates.

Most of the Ryerson public realm is owned by the City of Toronto. Close coordination with the City is required for any improvements on public right-of-ways.

The Campus Public Realm plan provides a high level vision, direction and key performance indicators (KPIs) for the development of public realm features on campus.

The Campus Public Realm Plan was developed between 2015-2016 with the help of DTAH Architects.

The plan was informed through stakeholder engagement sessions with the Ryerson community of students, faculty and staff to establish guiding principles for implementation also known as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Some highlights from the community consultations that went into shaping the Plan included:

  • Placemaking is important; the plan should create high-quality destinations.
  • Planting and greenery, lighting, public art and street furniture are popular wants.
  • Some approaches can achieve multiple goals (e.g. lighting can address safety but also be a public art statement).
  • First priority project area is Gould Street.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the guiding principles for implementing the Campus Public Realm Plan. Each stage of the plan’s implementation will incorporate different KPIs where feasible and appropriate. The KPIs are:

  1. Define core campus with signature public realm elements such as paving and lighting.
  2. Customize city furniture to define Ryerson’s public realm core boundaries.
  3. Create a signature Ryerson landscape by introducing and/or improving urban agriculture, green open spaces and streetscape.
  4. Enhance connectivity through public transit.
  5. Develop a consistent approach to lighting.
  6. Enhance pedestrian mobility and primary pedestrian zones.
  7. Integrate laneways as part of the public realm network.
  8. Enhance accessibility and active transportation routes.
  9. Provide opportunities for small retail at grade.
  10. Create an active and transparent ground plane that is both interesting and inviting.
  11. Reinforce existing visual pedestrian axes and create new ones.
  12. Create a flexible and adaptable strategy for the project’s phased implementation.
  13. Introduce sustainable materials.
  14. Introduce new public art opportunities and zones.
  15. Restore an Indigenous presence on our campus that includes various Indigenous Nations' cultural markers, as well as celebrating all heritages.

The Campus Public Realm Plan is complete and the City of Toronto is reviewing the construction document drawings developed by The Planning Partnership for implementation in 2019.

In 2018, some infrastructure upgrades and improvements were made to key areas of the campus as preliminary steps towards the implementation of the Campus Public Realm Plan.

In addition to resurfacing Victoria Street Lane and O’Keefe Lane, the Kerr Hall Quad underwent restoration work to the Recreation and Athletics Centre (RAC) drainage system. Additional work in the Quad provided accessibility improvements to the northeast entranceway,r including regrading and setting new paving stones. Work was also done to protect and improve the overall health of the Quad’s tree canopy.

The City of Toronto fast-tracked their planned watermain upgrades along Gould Street (accelerating their schedule by a full year) to ensure their work would not conflict with Ryerson public realm construction activities. Originally scheduled for 2019, the City used the fall months of 2018 to excavate portions of Gould Street to reline pipes that provide water service to many Ryerson buildings.

Improvements are planned along Victoria Street and Nelson Mandela Walk from Dundas Street East to Gerrard Street, and on Gould Street from O’Keefe Lane to Bond Street. Visit the Campus Core Revitalization 2019 project page for more details.

The central design theme is the permanent pedestrianization of Gould Street—raising the roadway to make it level with the walkway, prohibiting vehicular access except for emergency services, and establishing cycling dismount zones.

Other improvements include additional outdoor lighting, increasing opportunities for public art installations, adding biodiverse plantings, replacing end-of-life trees and other site furnishings to improve the safety and accessibility of our shared public spaces.


For comments or questions about this project, please contact Nic de Salaberry, director, planning and development, by email at or by phone at 416-979-5000, ext. 553428.