Construction starts on new Coquitlam high school

Centennial secondary school will soon be a construction site after the Coquitlam board of education awarded a $47.7-million contract to Envoy Construction Services for a replacement school.

School District 43's secretary treasurer, Mark Ferrari, told trustees at Tuesday's board meeting that work will start as early as next week with reconfiguring of the parking lot, and the opening date for the new school predicted for the fall of 2015.

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Ferrari said construction will be done in two phases, with the new school building finished first, followed by demolition of the old building and the construction of a gym - with an NBA-sized court - and neighbourhood learning centre, both of which are expected to open in the spring of 2017.

The new building is expected to fit the district's new Learning Without Boundaries vision, also approved Tuesday, to allow for flexible teaching spaces and new technology.

A video by architects Graham Hoffart Mathiasen shows a light and airy two-storey building with lots of windows and a solar chimney to allow light to the main floor. The library will be a key feature, with book stacks but no walls next to an open-air amphitheater that will be used for band and choir concerts, outdoor classrooms or independent study. As well, there will be quiet study areas, like those found in a university library.

Some of the planned highlights at the new Centennial:

the school will be designed around six learning communities providing for flexible classrooms (moveable walls) and spaces, each including wet labs, class spaces that can be increased or decreased in size, teacher pod area and student meeting spaces;

a 3,000 sq. ft. super lab for science instruction that can hold up to nine separate classes at one time;

Technology education spaces that support school and ACE-IT (apprenticeship/industry training) programs;

state-of-the-art teaching kitchen to support the school's culinary program;

and a 260-seat theatre.

The new Centennial will also be designed to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) Gold standards.

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