W. Ross Macdonald School

Greg Poste, Josh Bedard / MMMC Architects

The new student residence at the W. Ross Macdonald School for the Blind is a new build set atop a small hill between two of the campus’s older buildings. It creates a three-sided courtyard and shields the area from the north wind.

School Information
W. Ross Macdonald School
Provincial Schools Branch, Ontario Ministry of Education
Brantford, ON

Grades: 9-12
Students: Built for 80

Gerry Buhr, Facility Manager

Aaron Moffatt, Co-ordinator of Operations and Support Services at the Ontario Ministry of Education

Daniel Maggiacomo

Project Details

61,000 square ft new residence for secondary students who are visually impaired, blind or deafblind.

September 2014

MMMC Architects
Greg Poste
Josh Bedard

Barrier-free residences foster both communal living and independence

“We’ve finally been able to move away from what I would consider a resident building to a place that the students can call home.” – Daniel Maggiacomo,  Principal.

Built with the principles of universal design and emphasizing flexibility and simple, intuitive use, the two-storey building is home to 76 students” in  8-8 person pods and 2 – 6 person “living pods.” Each pod, or apartment includes a reading room, living room, dinning area and full kitchen. The pods, the rest of the building and the adjacent courtyard, were designed and built to meet the needs of its blind or low-vision occupants.

MMMC Architects has long been familiar with the school and the bucolic 20-hectare campus on which it’s situated. MMMC designed the campus’s brutalist main building in the 1970s, and has renovated the pool building and some residences. To learn more about the needs of the new building’s future residents, Poste, Bedard and their team at MMMC spent time touring the Canadian National Institute for the Blind in Toronto and had extensive consultations with W. Ross Macdonald staff.

“This project gave us the opportunity to go above and beyond the requirements of the building code and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) to create a building that fosters communal living and helps teach independence,” says Josh Bedard.  The outcome is a silver LEED construction building that students love living in.