October 2019

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OCTOBER 2019 | 49 Canyon Falls Middle School PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY CENTRAL OKANAGAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS (SCHOOL DISTRICT 23) Canyon Falls Middle School by ROBIN BRUNET I n general, new schools take a long time to develop and several years to construct – even those designed to accommodate traditional teaching methods. But the newly opened Canyon Falls Middle School in Kelowna is a distinct exception. Not only has the $38.1-million, three-storey building been designed to extensively pursue 21st-century learning concepts, it was constructed within a remarkable 16 month time frame. With a capacity to accommodate 750 grade six to eight students, Canyon Falls Middle School addresses the over- crowding of educational facilities in the Okanagan/Mission region. Central Okanagan Public Schools (School District 23) also intended the facility to address the specific needs of the stu- dent age category of 12 to 15. In order to fulfill these and other programming requirements, the District turned to Craven Huston Powers Architects, which in turn examined the design elements that had already been proposed. "The new school was originally considered to be built into the side of a slope, but we decided to pull the building further out onto a plateau so the foundations could be laid right away and students and staff would have incredible views of Okanagan Lake," says Justin Dyck, architect and partner at CHP Architects. Flexibility of spaces was crucial to the school layout, as the District required a series of interdisciplin- ary learning "pods" where groups of classrooms open into a large collab- orative maker space. CHP Architects designed classrooms on the first level to open onto outdoor learning spaces; other spaces were developed to be mul- tifunctional, including a stage in the atrium to transform a triple-high cir- culatory and casual space into a place for plays and presentations. "This was part of a main entrance and cultural hub that somewhat resembles a pin- wheel with everything radiating out of it," says Dyck. Mitch Van Aller, director of opera- tions for School District 23, notes that because Canyon Falls needed to accom- modate Neighbourhoods Learning Centre (NLC) programs allowing for exclusive use of some areas (including the gym), the entire west wing of the facility was dedicated to the gym and NLC spaces, thus providing users with easy, independent access. "The learn- ing pods were located on either end of each level of the school, six pods in total that could be locked off from elements such as the library and learning com- mons on the middle level," he says. Dyck points out that public con- sultation aided greatly in design development. "The students in these workshops are always so helpful," he says. "For example, they informed us that traditional washroom layouts were too often places of bullying, so we created non-gender specific private washrooms for the ground level with semi-public spaces for hand washing. Also, we designed the boys' and girls' change rooms to have the ability to be converted into individual cubicles if necessary down the road." Due to the student age category and the NLC programs, the gym was developed to be larger than normal with higher ceilings "and lots of glass, since it wouldn't be subjected to the intensity of high school sports," says Dyck. The school's exterior appearance was defined with aluminum composite panels, a bold green accent colour, cop- per toned glazing frames, and ground level masonry for resiliency. Angled columns for the roof overhangs are a subtle nod to the poles that uphold grapevines throughout the Okanagan. Greyback Construction Ltd. broke ground in April of 2018. "Everything came together nicely," says Van Aller. "Greyback was skilled at planning and execution, and as a local firm it had a good relationship with all the regional sub trades." While many public schools strive for LEED accreditation, the District opted to invest the accreditation money in a geoexchange heating system for Canyon Falls – which was provided by Falcon Engineering "and required 24 holes drilled to 650 feet in depth," according to Van Aller. Other environ- mentally efficient systems included daylight sensors, and special films and solar shades to mitigate heat gain. As for the mechanical systems, "they were fully enclosed on the second level instead of on the roof," says Van Aller. "The school had a height restriction: it couldn't block the views of homeown- ers living on the slope overlooking the school, so locating the mechanics on the roof was out of the question." Van Aller agrees that Canyon Falls Middle School, with its 21st-century learning mandate and other challenges, made it a complex project, "but we had a great team working with us. Craven Huston Powers Architects was adept at accommodating our criteria, and Greyback and the subtrades were very well organized. The entire process went very smoothly, and the result is terrific." A LOCATION 1211 Frost Road, Kelowna, B.C. OWNER/DEVELOPER Central Okanagan Public Schools (School District 23) ARCHITECT Craven Huston Powers Architects GENERAL CONTRACTOR Greyback Construction Ltd. STRUCTURAL CONSULTANT CWMM Consulting Engineers Ltd. MECHANICAL/ELECTRICAL/ GEOTHERMAL CONSULTANT Falcon Engineering Ltd. BUILDING ENVELOPE CONSULTANT RJC Engineers LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT Outland Design Landscape Architecture TOTAL SIZE 88,792 square feet TOTAL COST $38.1 million 8:36 AM 1:58 PM 4:37 PM 9:36 AM

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