February 2020

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50 | F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 0 École J.E. Lapointe School Modernization P H OTO G R A P H Y + R EN D ER I N G CO U RT E SY J EN - CO L CO N S T RU C T I O N LT D. ÉCOLE J.E. LAPOINTE SCHOOL MODERNIZATION by ROBIN BRUNET A s far as Marla Tonita is con- cerned, clear communication and persistence were vital ingredients in the successful modern- ization of the school of which she is the principal: École J.E. Lapointe School (EJELS) in Beaumont, Alberta. She explains: "These factors were important to the construction process, since the school had to remain func- tionable. But clear communication was also vital to the design process, because the stakeholders had clear ideas about what EJELS required and Group2 brought considerable exper- tise to this project." Built in the 1970s, EJELS is a main- stay of learning in Beaumont, but its last upgrade was in the 1980s. "As many as 600 students attend the school, and due to space issues the stage and music rooms had been par- titioned into multiple classrooms, and a class had even been created with partitions in the learning commons," says Bill Romanchuk, superintendent, Black Gold School Division. Not only was an expansion and makeover required, EJELS was tar- geted to be repurposed from a Grade five to nine learning facility to a Junior High Grade seven to nine. "This meant existing components such as our gym would no longer be appropriate for the new age group," says Tonita. Conversations about converting EJELS began eight years ago. "A lot of ideas were kicked back and forth, but the project began in earnest four years ago when we received government approval to upgrade the school and we engaged Group2," says Romanchuk. The architects and stakeholders embarked on a collaboration whereby major portions of the school's interior would be relocated and repurposed. The two most noticeable components were the new gym and learning com- mons, the former of which was placed on the opposite side of the facility, and the latter of which was reori- ented in a different position relative to the main entrance (and which would be adjoined by a new administration area). Group2 reconverted the old gym into a music room and arts and theatre space; it also brought natural light into this voluminous area with clerestory windows around the upper perimeter. Tonita says, "Group2 was mindful of our request to bring as much natu- ral light into the building as possible." This was accomplished by the use of clerestory windows and the addition of new windows in previously poorly lit areas such as the construction lab, which would also receive a new ceiling and millwork. Walls were knocked down for better flow and to accommodate flex spaces in keeping with 21st-century learn- ing principles. As for the exterior, new facia and siding in the form of ribbed gunmetal grey metal sheeting were chosen for durability and elegance. But the real showcase of the exterior was the landscaping. Romanchuk explains, "Multiple areas were expanded and recon- figured to create a much more welcoming appearance. The walkway to the school was designed to be much larger and allow students and staff to approach from two different points. The design also called for the planting of new trees and shrubbery, and the installation of benches. Capping this was a beautiful wrought iron orna- mental fence, which would also help direct pedestrian traffic." Jen-Col Construction broke ground in July of 2017, having worked closely with school staff and Black Gold to determine a sequence of construction that would allow students to navi- gate safely throughout the premises. "Every area of the school was either upgraded, reconfigured, repurposed, or altered in some way," says chief operating officer Sheldon Lee. Project manager Aidan Hillier adds, "The work was extensive. For example, the old parking had to be remediated, new below-ground services were installed along with curbs, access points, and so forth. "Fortunately, we were able to retain some beautiful old elements, includ- ing the wooden beams in the old gym and a portion of the terrazzo tile floor beyond the main corridor." Elsewhere, old modulars were replaced by new ones that adhere to Alberta Infrastructure standards. In addition to mechanical, elec- trical, structural, and civil services, Arrow Engineering delivered energy modelling design and consultation for the implementation of a 52kW solar photovoltaic micro-generation sys- tem on the new gym roof. Educational components were included such as energy dashboards in the main lobby to stream real-time electrical PV gen- eration values. With École J.E. Lapointe School receiving occupancy in January of this year, Tonita reiterates that the expertise of the architects and build- ers was enhanced by "clear, constant, and positive communication. This was vital in encouraging everyone to per- form at peak, in keeping everyone safe, and leading to a truly beautiful new learning facility that will serve the community for many years to come." A LOCATION 4801 – 55 Avenue, Beaumont, Alberta OWNER /DEVELOPER Black Gold School Division ARCHITECT Group2 GENER AL CONTR ACTOR Jen-Col Construction Ltd. STRUCTUR AL /MECHANICAL / ELECTRICAL CONSULTANT Arrow Engineering L ANDSCAPE ARCHITECT Design North Landscape Architecture TOTAL SIZE 6,090 square metres TOTAL COST Undisclosed Jen-Col_AWARD_0220.indd

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