Right in the heart of Ryerson University’s downtown Toronto campus, the area in and around the intersection of Victoria Street and Gould Street is a vital thoroughfare. Following Ryerson’s decision to close the area to public car traffic, Rutherford Contracting Ltd. was retained to transform the space into a pedestrian-friendly centre of student life.
Converting streets designed for cars required the removal of existing curbs and street-level storm and sanitary infrastructure. The excavation and re-grading offered an opportunity to upgrade an aging sanitary system and install a new telecom and electrical duct bank.
Due to its location in the heart of historic Toronto, major excavations revealed infrastructure inconsistent with plans provided by the city. Working with private telecom providers and various city permitting authorities required a great deal of improvisation and adaptation to identify and safely manage unknown subsurface infrastructure.
Continuous revisions to site plans resulted in unforeseen permitting delays, pushing the project into the winter months. In order to maintain project timelines, Rutherford erected temporary heated tent structures to allow interlocking and concrete works to continue in a dry and frost-free environment.
Further project delays were also encountered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Accent lighting, programmable to change colour and brightness for certain occasions, was delayed due to its supplier temporarily closing its operations, and supply chain disruptions resulted in delivery delays for tree grates and benches, imported from India and Europe.
Consistent student traffic also meant that no more than half of the site could be open for work at any time. Temporary fencing with wayfinding signage was used to route pedestrians through the site safely, and relocated periodically as construction progressed.
Rutherford was fortunate to have a Ryerson alumnus manage the project. Their knowledge of the campus proved a vital asset. Effective communication with university administration was needed as the downtown site meant both parties had to collaborate for phasing of work and to provide 24-hour security.
The university experience is often an unforgettable time in our lives. By completing the project in a safe and timely manner, Rutherford was able to limit disruptions to campus life, and deliver a streetscape worthy of one of Canada’s top academic institutions.
Owner – Ryerson University
Consultant – The Planning Partnership