December 2018

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 54 of 79

DECEMBER 2018 | 55 École Alpha Secondary School RENDERING COURTESY THINKSPACE ARCHITECTURE PLANNING INTERIOR DESIGN École Alpha Secondary School by JESSICA KIRBY É cole Alpha Secondary School is not your typical big city school. Its relatively small footprint and limited field space meant bringing con- ventional school standards into this building required the creativity, col- laboration, and co-operation of an exemplary team – and that is exactly what happened. The two-storey school was funded by the Ministry of Education for a seis- mic upgrade to mitigate risks that included un-reinforced masonry walls, inadequate connection of horizon- tal and vertical cast-in-place concrete elements, and shear walls and dia- phragms requiring upgrading to handle lateral seismic forces. In addition to the upgrade, a por- tion of the school was demolished, and a new wing was added. The two-sto- rey addition includes 14 classrooms, seven science classrooms and labs, four computer labs, administration space, and common learning areas. The project also includes an updated main entrance with a widened turn- around drop-off loop, outdoor plazas, a landscaped student courtyard, and a revised asphalt parking area. The school now carries a greater sense of connection between build- ings and features all the elements of a contemporary learning environ- ment including a school commons area where students can socialize, study, and learn in a bright and open setting. Russell Horswill, School District No.41's business manager, says the overarching vision for the project was a safe, functional, and contemporary learning environment, and that the upgrade and partial replacement model was the best way to get the job done. "We wanted to make sure the parts we retained were structurally sound and could withstand a large earthquake," he says. "We were looking at bringing in 21st-century design around the learning commons [library] and a super science lab that would allow teachers access to that space in a different way. We wanted to take the older, traditional, multi- storey, 1950s solid block building and bring in natural light, so there is lots of clerestory and natural light with south and west exposure." The upper floor having a larger area than the lower presented an interest- ing challenge, but the solution enforced the district's desire for open spaces and light moving through the build- ing. Lee Blanchard, architect with Thinkspace Architecture, prime con- sultant on the project, says rather than stack the hallways, the floor plates are offset and cantilevers on the north and south link the parts and create shading for windows and sitting spaces. "The offsetting meant the lower corridor is offset from the upper so they are interconnected with bridges across the gap to provide entrance to the programs on the west side," says Blanchard. "The bridges come into the entrance portals, which are big, coloured blocks." Glass guardrails on the bridges, which lead off of the main corridors to these specialized areas, create a visual link between the upper and lower floors while the students are circulating. Ernesto Ayala, project manager with Unitech Construction Management, says having his team involved early was an important step in getting the project off to a good start. "Typically, contractors don't get involved until the design is done," he says. "We were able to visit the site with the consultant team and owner group and provide input on sequence and constructability ahead of time, which improved on the schedule and cost." Opening up a 60-year-old building can be full of surprises, which makes any investigative work done in the early stages invaluable. "You might open the walls and discover a column is not there or there are asbestos materials that have to be abated," says Ayala. "There is a lot of investigation involved." The new building is made of struc- tural steel with conventional materials and connecting it to the old building required precise planning and co-ordi- nation. The existing building required massive sheer walls with large footings anchored into the ground. "We had to cut out sections inside the building and build concrete shear walls continuously from the founda- tion to the top floor ceiling," says Ayala. "Then steel braces tied in to the shear walls like arteries extended to tie in all floors and we didn't always know what we were going to find." Both interior and exterior concrete shear walls in the existing building were constructed of shotcrete to min- imize forming and stripping time, and to minimize damage for concrete placement to floors or the roof above. The team also selected the least dis- ruptive and costly alternatives to interior screw piles and soil anchors. The structural engineer was heav- ily involved in this process, which also required a great deal of scanning in the area to locate gas, power, or water lines. The team also used cast-in-place concrete plates to create a ramping bridge that corrects the plate slope dif- ferential. The ramp passes through an activity zone that includes administra- tive offices, bleachers to a second gym, and a student gathering space. In some cases, connecting the old to the new was prohibitive, which meant the consultants had to think outside conventional measures. For example, the main gym is an island, discon- nected from the rest of the building. It required some kind of exterior covered link connecting two buildings with dif- ferent structural requirements. "It was a bit of a challenge because the two buildings can't share the same structural system," says Blanchard. "We created a portion that hangs off the addition and a portion off of the gym and they overlap but don't touch." Hanging heavy interior beams required some creative thinking as there was no way to get a crane indoors to move the 2,000-lb structures. "We came up with pulley system," says Ayala. "We designed and installed a hung belt sys- tem where the crane would drop in on the outside and we would roll it on to pul- leys hanging from the ceiling to get the beam where we wanted it. There was no other way without opening the roof." In many places – inside and out – the seismic upgrade components are visible by way of exposed seismic braces and concrete filled steel posts with braces between and painted yellow. "We tried to make it noted in the architecture and that comes across inside, too," says Blanchard. "In some cases, you can even see the cross-brace system in the glass between meeting rooms." The Burnaby School District has a long history of using construction management, which all parties agree was essential to the high-level commu- nication and teamwork that brought the project together. "In this project it has proven an incredibly co-oper- ative strategy with everyone coming together to create a strong team and make a great project," says Horswill. A LOCATION 4600 Parker Street, Burnaby, B.C. OWNER/DEVELOPER School District #41 (Burnaby) ARCHITECT Thinkspace Architecture Planning Interior Design CONSTRUCTION MANAGER Unitech Construction Management STRUCTURAL CONSULTANT WSP Canada MECHANICAL CONSULTANT Rocky Point Engineering ELECTRICAL CONSULTANT Jarvis Engineering LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT PMG Landscape Architects TOTAL SIZE 12,343 square metres TOTAL COST $32.2 million 10:25 AM 11:12 AM

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Award - December 2018