October 2019

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 72 of 79

OCTOBER 2019 | 73 Sioux North High School PHOTOGRAPHY BY TREVOR GAUTHIER OF BLANK PRODUCTIONS/COURTESY KEEWATIN-PATRICIA DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD Sioux North High School by ROBIN BRUNET T he motivation to develop Sioux North High School in the commu- nity of Sioux Lookout, northwest Ontario, was simple and critical: Sioux Lookout's Queen Elizabeth District High School badly needed to be replaced, and a new facility – which had been discussed for two decades – would not only accommodate students from remote First Nations but also act as a community hub. During the school's long construc- tion period, Sean Monteith, director of education for the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board, told media, "The current high school was built almost 70 years ago. The new high school is being built at the height of modern technological transformation, so all the technological capabilities that you would see in a 21st-century learning environment are going to be there." The new $30-million facility is the largest capital project undertaken by the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board since its creation in 1998. It features 23 classrooms, including specialty facilities for woodworking, automotive, food safety, and music classes, along with a cafetorium. The library is bright and airy with floor-to- ceiling windows. Evans Bertrand Hill Wheeler Architecture Inc., a North Bay Ontario firm well versed in school design (now Critchley Hill Architecture Inc.), was one of several companies short listed to help bring Sioux North to life. Upon being awarded the com- mission in 2014, senior principal Ian Hill researched the history of Sioux Lookout and the regional population to develop a design approach that would encompass not only the school but also Confederation College and Firefly Northwest child and family services, each of which required 5,000 square feet of space. Extensive public and stakeholder input was conducted. Monteith told reporters, "All the things we often hear about in other places in the province will be coming home to Sioux Lookout," he said, giving as an example: "We heard loud and clear gender-neutrality in Sioux Lookout is important, so this new school will have consideration and inclusion of that, gender neutral wash- rooms, safe spaces." Hill designed Sioux North as a cross axis facility, with an elevated, canti- levered outward space framing the student commons that would greet vis- itors as they approached. "It's a long overhang that also provides a pro- tected entrance to the building and looks to the north," he says. The entry leads into the gym, with the cafetorium just down the hall. Having the two spaces allows for the use of the cafetorium for com- munity plays/concerts during sports tournaments. "Because caterers were not available for Sioux Lookout we placed the food lab beside the cafeto- rium to give students the opportunity to cook food either for themselves or for community fundraisers," says Hill. The cafetorium provides another option to host meetings and confer- ences beyond existing venues in the community; "And to augment the the- atre component, we connected the music and art rooms directly to the stage on either side," says Hill. Cultural references were show- cased in the crush area leading to the gym. "We designed this as an ideal place to display birch bark canoes and a massive five panel hydrological map of the region printed on glass," says Hill, who in 2017 restructured his new firm as Critchley Hill Architecture Inc. For the exterior, low maintenance and durability were priorities. "We used a dark Belden brick extensively that is flashed very hard and doesn't absorb moisture in the freeze and thaw cycles," says Hill. "We also used alu- minum composite panels with wood effects extensively." Everstrong Construction broke ground in the fall of 2016, and excava- tion was complicated by the discovery of an old garbage pit on the site. "We wound up having to over-excavate to remove the junk, and foundation work didn't begin until the spring of 2017," says project manager Mike Hossack, adding that by the winter of that year the building still wasn't fully enclosed, which again impeded construction: "So we focused on completing the Confederation College and Firefly Northwest portions of the school and got them occupied by December of 2018, and the students followed the fol- lowing spring." Hossack goes on to note that, "Small touches add up to a lot for this project. For example, the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board fought hard – and successfully – for extra government funding for a real wood sprung floor in the gym, and the final product is beau- tiful. Also, the audio visual components of the cafetorium are a high quality professional standard." As Sioux North High School neared completion, Monteith told local press that the new facility was well worth the wait. "It really is going to be a community campus and it's going to transform, I think, what education and learning looks like in Sioux Lookout." A LOCATION 86 Third Avenue North, Sioux Lookout, Ontario OWNER/DEVELOPER Keewatin-Patricia District School Board ARCHITECT Critchley Hill Architecture Inc. GENERAL CONTRACTOR Everstrong Construction Ltd. STRUCTURAL/MECHANICAL/ ELECTRICAL CONSULTANT TBT Engineering Ltd. TOTAL SIZE 80,000 square feet TOTAL COST $30 million 12:03 PM

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Award - October 2019