An as-yet unnamed middle school will have a bird's eye view of Port Moody from its perch atop Heritage Mountain as well as a green roof and other innovations tying its classrooms to the outdoors.
Situated above Heritage Woods secondary school in Port Moody, the new middle school across the border in Anmore will sit next to a forest and feature rain gardens with native plants and interpretive signage, an outdoor amphitheatre and large windows to let in natural light. The parking lot will be constructed of permeable pavers to slow the flow of water, which will drain into planted bioswales (to filter the water), grasses will be planted on the roof and a cistern will be installed to capture rain water.
The idea is to create a water-management plan that has less impact on the environment and local creeks, and the architectural firm Bunting Coady, which presented the latest building design at a public meeting last week, said the aim is that the natural touches will inspire students attending the school.
"The connection to the forest creates a place where children learn to interact with nature while playing without structure or program. The students are positively impacted and encouraged to creative thinking and independence," the architects noted in a design statement.
In addition to natural features and outdoor classrooms, the architects are proposing the building be designed as a "passive house" using the latest building technology to minimize energy use and heating loss - the goal is to cut energy consumption by 90%.
All these innovations are planned but the trick is to fit them into the $23-million budget.
"Everything has to be costed out," explained Carey Chute, SD43's principal of facilities initiatives, adding that the final budget will have to meet expectations for the LEED Gold building within the budget envelope provided by the education ministry.
For now, however, the district is seeking approval from the community on the building design, parking and road access. An online survey has been set up (www.sd43.bc.ca) and the public is welcome to comment on the proposed design. The next step will be to go to tender for the project and start construction on the 500-student school in the late fall.
Two other new Tri-City public school buildings are also well on their way towards construction.
James Park elementary on Port Coquitlam's north side will soon have heavy equipment on site for construction of a $14-million replacement school and parents are being informed of new drop-off and parking provisions to accommodate the project.
"They are just mobilizing the forces right now," said Chute of the new school, which is expected to be open in the fall of 2012. The plan is to build the new school next to the current building, then knock the old one down - as was done at Glen elementary in Coquitlam - but Chute said students will still have access to an all-weather playing field during construction.
Planned innovations for James Park include space for community programs and a daycare, a covered learning patio, large windows and a sloped butterfly roof with an oversized gutter that will direct rainwater to landscaped bioswales.
As for Pitt River middle in PoCo, SD43 is expected to seek a building permit soon for the $21-million, 450-student capacity replacement school. One of the more innovative features of this new building will be outdoor sunshades that will cut down glare in the daytime and act as security screens at night. The school will also have space for community programs, an aboriginal welcoming centre and room for a new sports alliance that is being developed to co-ordinate professional development in community sports.
Construction for Pitt River is expected to start late this fall.