December 2015

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DECEMBER 2015 | 85 Neerlandia Public Christian School PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY PEMBINA HILLS REGIONAL DIVISION NO. 7 Neerlandia Public Christian School by GODFREY BUDD O n the face of it, the contrast between the rural location of a new kin- dergarten to grade nine school in a north central Alberta hamlet and the image of bustle often evoked by Canada's petroleum province could not be much sharper. The influx into the province of over a million people from across the country and around the world in the last decade has resulted in a soaring demand for schools. When the provincial govern- ment of Alberta gave the go-ahead a few years ago for the replacement of an existing school built in 1941, it was expected that the new Neerlandia Public Christian School would open in either late 2016 or 2017. That has changed. "We're looking at opening in early 2016, which is absolutely amazing with the number of schools currently needed. Things moved forward fast in our case," says Colleen Symyrozum-Watt, super- intendent of schools for Pembina Hills Regional Division No. 7. The application process, however, had begun about a decade ago. A stakeholder committee was set up to ensure that the new school, which will serve a popula- tion from farms and hamlets north of the town of Barrhead with a student capacity of 300, meets the needs of the local com- munity. "One of our key requirements was that the school's design and facili- ties had to invite the community in, and accommodate activities during after- school hours," says Symyrozum-Watt. Programs available to the commu- nity at large include fine arts, sports, theatre and music. A branch of the local public library system is located near the main entrance to the new school. Unlike its predecessor, which is costly to heat during the region's frigid winters, the new building is designed with energy efficiencies as a priority and wheelchair access to all classrooms and other amenities. The old school, which is adjacent to the new one, will be torn down, creating additional parking. The new school building includes elec- tronic card access for teachers and other staff, digital surveillance cameras and computer-controlled emergency lighting. In common with many other new schools in Alberta, the Neerlandia Public Christian School is geared for change. It has one kindergarten room, four stan- dard classrooms, four multipurpose classrooms and three modular class- rooms. The latter are sometimes called portables as they can be easily added or removed from the core structure. Modulars for Alberta schools have a 25-year lifespan, says Leland Stelck, an architectural technologist with ACI Architects Inc. "Most schools have the capacity for modular expansion. They have woodframe construction with rainscreen envelope design. You design the school so you can attach them to the end of a corridor and students don't have to go outside," says Stelck. The new school is slated for LEED Silver certification. "The corridor has clerestory windows; they are more energy efficient and less prone to leak- age than skylights. Also, there are no interior classrooms except for the drama room," adds Stelck. Designed in part as the stage compo- nent of a theatre, the drama classroom has a raised floor to provide a stage. A sliding wall panel, which usually divides the combination stage and drama class- room from the adjacent classroom, is opened during theatre performances, with the adjacent classroom providing an audience seating area. The f looring for classrooms, hall- ways and public areas is of a vinyl composite tile, with porcelain tile for washrooms. HVAC is in a locked area inside the building. The school's exterior walls are a mix of concrete cinder block and pre-fin- ished metal siding. "Both materials were chosen with durability in mind. Also, you can get colour and architectural punch with these materials," says Stelck. Design work began when the prov- ince's infrastructure department pro- vided a template/design to The Workun Garrick Partnership Architecture and Interior Design Inc., which, as bridging architects, "did the basic performance specs – up to 30 per cent working draw- ings. This is then returned to the gov- ernment, which puts out an RFP for design-builders with their consultant group," says Brett Woodrow, an associ- ate at Workun Garrick. In accordance with the province's requirement that new schools are LEED Silver, displacement ventilation and con- densing boilers are part of the building's HVAC. "Alberta has mandated that 11 out of a maximum of 19 energy points are in all new schools' systems. We per- formed energy modelling that took account of windows, insulation, HVAC system capacity and electrical usage," says Bill Temple, mechanical engineer- ing manager at Williams Engineering Canada Inc. The new school building has two air handling units and heat wheels with a 70 per cent efficiency rating. "All wash- rooms have the exhaust air returned to the air handling unit for heat recovery. Air change in washrooms is about two to three times more frequent than for other indoor areas," says Temple. Alberta Infrastructure has also mandated a switch to LED lighting for all new schools. "We deployed LED in areas where the most energy savings could be realized. All the classrooms and the library have LED. For daylight- ing, we used a sensor-based system to dim the lights," says Phil Schamehorn, an electrical engineering technologist at Scheunhage Popek & Associates Ltd. Construction began in late August 2014, and measures taken by the gen- eral contractor had a lot to do with why the new school is going to open earlier than originally expected. "The biggest thing we did was focus on the structural components that are best done in warm weather. The focus was to get the foun- dation in and the concrete block for the gym built. As soon as that was done, we could tie everything else in afterwards during the cold weather. The intent was to get a jump of about six months so the winter work was mostly of a type not affected by weather," says Shane Heintz, project manager with Jen-Col Construction Ltd. A LOCATION 4918 – 50 Street, Neerlandia, Alberta OWNER/DEVELOPER Pembina Hills Regional Division No.7 BRIDGING ARCHITECT The Workun Garrick Partnership Architecture and Interior Design Inc. ARCHITECT OF RECORD ACI Architects Inc. DESIGN BUILD CONTRACTOR Jen-Col Construction Ltd. STRUCTURAL/ ELECTRICAL CONSULTANT Scheunhage Popek & Associates Ltd. MECHANICAL/CIVIL CONSULTANT Williams Engineering Canada TOTAL SIZE 32,819 square feet TOTAL COST $12 million 3:27 PM

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