October 2019

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 56 of 79

OCTOBER 2019 | 57 Westpark Middle School Westpark Middle School by ROBIN BRUNET S oliciting stakeholder input dur- ing the design process has become a time-honoured tradition – but the design committee responsible for the new $18-million Westpark Middle School in Red Deer took the practice to stratospheric levels, with the outcome being a unique addition to Alberta's education portfolio. Specifically, Berry Architecture + Associates, supported by the Red Deer Public Schools, sought design input from students monthly over a two year period. "The lead architect on the project, George Berry, as well as the design committee, was eager for us to gather their ideas and implement them wherever feasible," says Angela Flinn, project manager and associate partner at Berry Architecture + Associates. Susanne Widdecke, partner at Berry Architecture + Associates, adds, "It turned out to be an amazingly produc- tive undertaking, and most enjoyable." Essentially, the ideas helped transform the building's diverse elements – from the elevator to the mechanical room – into learning spaces. Stu Henry, superintendent, Red Deer Public Schools, explains that the school Westpark replaced had been over-utilized, "As far back as 10 years ago we identified that it wasn't in the greatest repair. But when we submit- ted an application for modernization, the Alberta government undertook a scoping project and determined that building a new facility to accommodate 500 students would be more affordable than modernization – which was fan- tastic news for us." After exploring various location options and deciding to build the new structure immediately west of the old school, Henry and his colleagues vowed to create something special. "Elementary and high school designs are often very creative, but middle schools tend to get lost, and yet middle school is an impor- tant transition for students – so we thought it was important that the kids have a say in what Westpark would be." The process began in earnest in 2015, and later the students also interacted with Shunda Consulting & Construction Management and sub- contractors. "The students provided a fresh perspective and with each meet- ing we came away with pages and pages of ideas," Flinn says. One example was the creation of an elevator for students with mobility challenges, outfitted with a glass wall so the mechanics could be observed. "And the students rightfully insisted that the elevator should be in the cen- tre of the school instead of tucked away in a corner," says Widdecke. Overall, the LEED Gold-targeted Westpark would evolve as a two-storey open concept design, with 21st-century learning elements such as flex spaces, gath- ering areas, a learning common, and the distinct absence of traditional corridors. The students suggested that the mechanical room have a glass wall to showcase its inner workings; elsewhere, they also proposed a water feature for its calming effect as well as the poten- tial to be used as part of science class. And when it was learned that solar pan- els were to be located on the roof, the students suggested rooftop access (the architects would accompany this with a parapet for safety's sake). Red Deer Minor Baseball was given an office at the school, and education students from Red Deer College will PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY BERRY ARCHITECTURE + ASSOCIATES 1:59 PM 12:18 PM

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Award - October 2019