Jean Vanier Catholic Secondary

 / Vocational


Doug Snyder, Anil Gokarn / Snyder Architects

Jean Vanier Catholic Secondary

Having integrated shops and learning studios creates cross-curriculum possibilities for teaching and a “Da Vinci” style learning studio where creative collaboration spurs innovation.

Integrated program spaces foster innovation

Doug Snyder, Principal

The design of Jean Vanier encourages multiple opportunities for hands-on learning. The Shop space is part of the atrium’s street life, rather than being tucked away at the end of a corridor. The Shop floor is sunk by three feet so people looking in from the atrium and the two flanking corridors have an overview of the entire space. Its placement and thinking was to clearly communicate that there are multiple pathways to success. This is a generation of kids that know everything but have experienced very little. We wanted to change that by raising that level of exposure, understanding and respect for what’s available to them.

Each shop program is articulated in 3 zones but they are all adjacent in what we call “Dad’s Garage”; We produced an integrated Shop/Tech area with zones for carpentry, metalwork and electrical, each with its own specialized equipment and staffing, and with access to an outside courtyard. It’s an industrial space with 15 foot ceilings but each zone has a teachable area with appropriate acoustics, writing walls, and seating. There’s even a dust-free design space with computers and drafting equipment. Having integrated shops and learning studios creates cross-curriculum possibilities for teaching and a “Da Vinci” style learning studio where creative collaboration spurs innovation.

Project based, experiential learning supports academic learning. By making the tech room open to the outdoors with a large garage door, the drama and art students can make large installations outside and then bring them into the theatre. There’s a display area on the atrium side to showcase what the tech students have produced and a Student Success room adjacent to this area. It has simpler tools, where safety is less of an issue, and it’s an outreach to other students to engage with the Shop/Tech curriculum.