“We were deemed to be both the developer of the site and constructor of the school. That presented a whole regiment of approvals and improvements, yet the school was still built on time and on budget and it came into operation when we needed it.”
– Randy Wright, Superintendent and Controller, Design and Construction
Maximum street presence on a minimum site
The school’s small lot is situated on six-lane, suburban Queen Street, directly across from a residential neighbourhood. The lot was relatively raw before the project began, despite it’s former use as an Ontario Provincial Police training centre. Its east face is adjacent to a small road built specifically for school access, that carries traffic to Queen Street Public School, the elementary school directly south of it. As an additional bonus it also is next to the back entrance of a grassy, park-like municipal campus.
Foot traffic in the area is limited, but the school is in a high-traffic area where it is visible to community members and prospective students. And while traffic safety concerns meant the school’s main entrance couldn’t be built on Queen Street, it required good street presence so that it could be appreciated as a stand-alone building in its own right, not just as a school accessed by students, teachers and parents.
The architects worked with landscape designers to create a grassy space with trees and shrubs that buffered the glass and brick back of the school from the busy street. Much effort was also put into maintaining the large trees that already grew on the property. Most new plantings on the grounds were chosen because they were local, low-maintenance and drought-resistant, which could thrive and enhance the school’s overall aesthetic.
Even though the school’s entrance isn’t on Queen Street, its address is. Therefore the architects designed a curved, low yellow-brick masonry plinth, facing Queen Street, that quietly but definitively identifies the building.