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In a burgeoning neighbourhood in Kitchener’s south-end sits Janet Metcalfe Public School, the area's newest public education facility designed to meet the needs of the increasingly diverse community it serves. With programming for children from junior kindergarten to Grade 8, the two-storey facility includes 20 classrooms, two special education rooms, five kindergarten rooms, an administration centre, library, technology classroom with workshop, double gymnasium, and washrooms. Home to a specialty program for medically fragile students, the design includes program space that accommodates the needs of eight children with medical needs, their caregivers, and teachers, ensuring equal access to education for all. The site also hosts a 6,800 SF daycare facility.

 

The building is located across from a preserved remnant of Carolinian forest. This landscape has inspired the materials used in the building. Clay brick, stone, and glass are the main material, with the underside of soffits appearing as wood. Soaring windows throughout the building flood communal areas and classrooms with natural light, and delight staff and students with views of the neighbouring conservation area. Warm wood finishes and natural colours inside, with bright colours utilized sparingly for wayfinding, allow students to move through the calm space with purpose. The playful green in the Library emulates the peaceful pastoral views of Waterloo Region, while exposed ceilings, modern fixtures, and gleaming glass align with the modern feel of the booming tech industry in the area.

When construction was about to commence, the requirements for the medically fragile area became known. The program was scheduled to move into another new school but the space was too small to meet program needs. The consultation process to develop the design of this space involved analysis of the existing inadequate classroom facility. Meetings and discussions with teachers and leadership lead to the conversion of two proposed classrooms into a specialized facility for medically fragile students.

 

The medically fragile program area includes a large, fully accessible washroom with a change table, and a large separate changing area with storage for supplies and clothing. An additional medical nursing area has space for charting, as well as refrigerated storage for medication and a sink for medical preparation. The design also includes a laundry and kitchen area within the classroom to care for the needs of students. The classroom itself has ample space to accommodate mobility needs and support equipment. A padded calming area allows students to retreat to a comfortable space and still be part of the lesson. This area includes a variety of sensory simulation equipment. To enhance functionality, a separate room was incorporated to store mobility equipment when not in use. This space plays in important role in legitimizing the educational needs of a historically underserved student demographic.

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We are happy to announce we are the recipient of a Diamond Award for Building Engineering in recognition of our work at Conestoga College's Waterloo Campus.

 

In association with Moriyama & Teshima Architects, we provided mechanical, electrical, structural, and civil engineering services for the College’s $43.5 million, 165,000 square foot expansion of their Waterloo Campus. This project included both a renovation to the existing structure and a new building, nearly doubling the existing area of the College. Part of this project’s funding was supported by the federal government’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund (SIF) and was delivered through a fast-tracked process completed over three phases. In order to meet funding requirements, we strategically designed phases in parallel to expedite the design, tendering, and construction processes.

 

The project included several exciting additions that supplemented Conestoga's existing complement of training and student services programs. The Institute for Culinary and Hospitality Management was designed to educate students interested in hospitality and simultaneously positions Waterloo Region as a culinary tourism destination. The newly added access hub provides career advising, language training, testing, and academic advising for students, newcomers to Canada, job seekers, and area employers. The project also included the addition of the Centre for Advanced Learning, which focuses on information and communications technology, digital technologies, and business.

 

In line with the College’s mandate for sustainability, we were directed consider their targets for greenhouse gas emission reduction and sustainability in our design. Given the constraint of a limited capacity increase the existing electrical power on site, we designed a new cooling plant, which was the largest electrical load in the facility, to use a smaller chiller supplemented with ice storage. By pre-cooling with ice during the evenings, we were able to design a system that did not require additional power supply for the new building.

 

We were also involved in the design of a 150 kW solar installation on the new building. It was important to the College that the solar array was visible to the students and the public to showcase their commitment to sustainability. For this reason, the array was installed above the main entrance to the facility facing a major street – University Avenue. While this limited the physical size and angle of the array,  our firm, in conjunction with local solar panel installers, prepared the preliminary layout of the solar array detailing position, angle, and quantity of the solar panels to maximize electrical output.

 

The complexities the project presented were an invigorating challenge for our team, and we are thrilled with the end result. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with the academic community to deliver projects that support student success and benefit the greater community.

 

Congratulations to all of the project partners involved in making this development a success.

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