Granite Ridge Education Centre

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Tom Wilson / + VG Architects

Granite Ridge Education Centre
The site offered challenges such as granite hills, forests and swamps. The local conservation authority required that turtle walls be built to discourage the wildlife from migrating across the school’s fields and parking lots.

“It’s called Granite Ridge for a reason: The school is in an area of our board where the limestone meets the granite. The rocks and trees and nature are a very significant part of the school.”

– Barb Fraser-Stiff, Superintendent of Education

A challenging site becomes an engaging feature.

+VG Architects in association with SZA Architects

Granite Ridge Education Centre is located on the outskirts of the town of Sharbot Lake, ON., about 100 kilometres north of Kingston. The property is densely treed, intermittently swampy and features a solid ridge of granite that swells up behind the school. Because the school was built on the same property as the local high school that was slated to be decommissioned after the new school was open, there were few choices for where to locate the new building.

“Topography was a big challenge. It is an undulating site and fitting the building in this position was challenging. We knew from day one that the rock outcrop was going to be something that we would engage with in the new building so that it would become a feature that we could take advantage of.” – Tom Wilson, Associate Partner, +VG Architects

The rural site is not on the municipal water system, and the existing well carried the odour of sulphur, so a new well had to be built as well as a cistern for storing water for the building’s sprinkler system.

“There’s a wetland north of the school, so we had numerous meetings with the conservation authority to make sure we were not going to cause any disruption to the ecosystem. One of the things we had to do was to put up a turtle wall to prevent turtles from getting into certain areas. You don’t want a bunch of turtles migrating across the school playground and parking lot.” – David Fowler, Manager of Facilities Services

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