October 2018

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OCTOBER 2018 | 79 Whispering Ridge Community School PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY PEACE WAPITI PUBLIC SCHOOL DIVISION Whispering Ridge Community School by SUSAN PEDERSON LOCATION 15060 – 14924 102A Street, Grande Prairie, Alberta OWNER/DEVELOPER Peace Wapiti Public School Division ARCHITECT Stantec GENERAL CONTRACTOR Graham Construction STRUCTURAL CONSULTANT RJC Engineers MECHANICAL CONSULTANT Arrow Engineering Inc. ELECTRICAL CONSULTANT AECOM LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT Douglas Walters Landscape Architect Ltd. TOTAL SIZE 70,000 square feet (total core plus eight modular classrooms) TOTAL COST $19.5 million U sing proven designs and formulas, plus computer software to keep costs in check, the Peace Wapiti Public School Division (PWPSD) com- pleted the Whispering Ridge Community School (WRCS) just in time for the 2018/19 school year. It was well worth the wait for 650 kindergarten through grade eight students and their teachers. The sunlight-infused school includes a library located near the front entrance, break-out learn- ing spaces throughout the school to provide teachers and students with quiet spaces to work and study, and a centrally-located gym – the largest ele- mentary/junior high gym throughout PWPSD at almost 8,000 square feet. "A big plus with this project was that we were able to choose from a number of design options provided by Alberta Infrastructure, and then share that design with our architect," says facilities director David Michalko. "By basing WRCS on proven exist- ing designs, we were able to eliminate some of the typical surprises one would encounter with a large construc- tion project such as this." There was, however, one large and unfortunate surprise, when the mechanical contractor went into receivership, pushing back the origi- nal opening date from spring 2018 to September 4, 2018. However, Michalko and the team were on the case. With trades secured and a replacement mechanical contractor in place, the project was soon back on track, with the net result being a brag-worthy structure that is so much more than the sum of its parts. "We received LEED Silver accredi- tation, covering the environmental efficiency of all aspects of the proj- ect, including mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and landscape architecture," says Michalko. "The products and tech- nology used in the project emphasize our commitment to energy efficiency. I believe our staff and students will appreciate both the natural lighting from the large windows and the motion sensor LED lighting used through- out the school. The cladding, roofing, windows, and doors that make up the envelope of the building all promote reduced heating and cooling costs." The naturally-lit learning commons features three, two-storey-high walls of windows, flexible seating and a fireplace, and quickly became a favourite area for students. The second floor includes an expandable music room which opens to a large flex space, creating a combined learning and performance space. Large windows look down on views of the main entrance, gym and grand staircase below. Eight modular classrooms; a foods lab, and a playschool facility that will be operated in partnership with the County of Grande Prairie, round out the school community nicely. Fran Yungwirth, structural con- sultant with RJC Engineers says the structural design was challenged by site conditions, most notably the soils, which are known to be high swelling in the area. As a result, it was necessary for the main floor to be constructed of structural slab on piles. "When you do that, that slab can be very expensive because it must be designed to withstand not only loads from above but very large loads from the soil. We prescribed parameters on the under-slab construction, which allowed us to limit upward pressure from the soil and then used concrete analysis software to give us more accurate distri- bution stresses in the slab. This resulted in an economic design by allowing us to optimize pile locations and provide minimal reinforcing in the slab." The savings by utilizing this special- ized software is in the analysis, which allows for the accurate resolution of complex geometry and loads. The out- put could then be used to define simple slab reinforcing details. Brian Bengert, senior principal, and Vipul Chauhan, senior project manager with Stantec also employed a formulaic approach to certain aspects of the proj- ect. "Every school has a budget and these are pretty tight, but what we have done for all schools is we have an approach to follow so we don't go beyond the means for what we are made to design and pro- vide," explains Chauhan. The oversized site, at 12.5 acres (school sites are usually seven to eight acres) was a plus, with the large lot accommodating the bus parking and routing within the school boundary. However, the contours and parameters of the site posed challenges, namely integrating with the existing neigh- bourhood. With focus on site planning, they were able to provide generous set- backs with the adjacent housing. "As we access the school building from the main parking lot, the main entrance is flanked by a double-height learning commons, which is wrapped in a curtain wall with fritted glass. This is the focal point of the building," says Chauhan. "On arrival inside the building we strategically provided a feature stair in the central core area of the school to connect the two f loors of the building. This feature stair with glass railings is silhouetted by a clere- story above for natural lighting," he says. "We used glass for the hand- rails, which really helps to enhance the internal visual connection of the building. The material is tempered half-inch glass strong enough for required pressure, which we have used in all different schools." Different materials were also fea- tured on the exterior. Terrazzo blocks can take abuse close to the ground, while metal panels adorn the upper sections as well as composite wall pan- els and a curtain wall system with fritted glass. A FEWM.indd 1 2018-09-20 2:14 Tehilla Firestopping Congratulations to Graham Construction on a successful project – Whispering Ridge Community School! We are proud to be part of the team. Tehilla.indd 1 2018-09-24 8:31 AM December 2018 ANNUAL INDUSTRY FEATURE: Fire Protection Systems Book your ad space now: Dan Chapman 604.473.0316 Alexander Sugden 604.473.0358

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