Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investments

Holy Trinity Academy, Okotoks, Alberta, Canada

Exemplary design categories: community use and involvement, cultural and historical value, energy efficiency, flexible learning settings, green school, music and theatre facilities

How the facility meets the needs of education and communities:
The vision for the school was to build a visibly Catholic, healthy and energy-efficient school. Its design draws on Catholicism for inspiration. The core of the school is an equilateral triangle representing the Trinity and allowing for ease of movement throughout the building. The interior gathering space, referred to as the Atrium, is filled with Catholic symbolism. The chapel, water feature, stained glass window and triquetra symbols emphasise this area’s importance. Flooded with natural light, it is a space to which students, teachers and visitors are drawn; a healthy, inspiring social space that serves many functions. Exterior pillars help shade the south facing wall of the library and provide the perfect canvas for artwork representing the four writers of the gospel. The site was designed as part of a Catholic campus setting with St. James Roman Catholic Church adjacent, and boasts tremendous views of the Rocky Mountains. It is the first high school in Canada to achieve a LEED Gold certification from the CaGBC, exemplified through choice of materials, education and the impact on the environment. Many areas can be used for multiple purposes, thereby increasing utilisation during the day and reducing the environmental footprint and cost of the building. For example, the main student circulation area is the atrium which doubles as a student social area, containing couches and comfortable seating. This area has plenty of natural light and is located adjacent to the administration offices, which allows for excellent passive supervision. Another example is the library which contains 30 computers, and functions also as a research and report writing centre, a third computer lab, and an area for students to complete homework. The conference room doubles as a videoconferencing suite enabling staff to participate in divisional meetings remotely and also enabling teachers to teach classes to students in other schools. The main feature, however, is the theatre. By day, it is normally used as an overflow area for the drama programme, a cafeteria at lunch hour, and a secondary physical education space. However, with the switch of a button, the retractable theatre seating can be extended to create a 400-seat theatre adjacent to a large stage. The stage also serves as the drama room, and its operable walls allow it to open onto the theatre. Community sports programs such as football and soccer use the facility via joint use agreements. The facility is also used in conjunction with special events at the adjacent Church. The adjacent Church also access the parking lot for weekend Masses, marriages, and funerals.

Activity Areas: 23 classrooms, band room, construction lab, 2 learning support suites, drama suite, office suite, Atrium (social area and circulation area), gymnasium, fitness centre, two computer labs, library, 2 science labs, counseling suite, drama room, theatre, new media suite, conference room, art room, foods room, and 4 departmental offices.

Project costs: CDN 13,854,000.00

Source: Submitted to OECD for "Designing for Education: Compendium of Exemplary Educational Facilities 2011" in 2010

  • Global rating average: 0.0 out of 5
  • 0.0
  • 0.0
  • 0.0
  • 0.0
  • 0.0
not rated

User perspectives (1)

The building contains far more features than would be expected given the space allocation. This is acheived through the inclusion of multiuse spaces. A school this size would not normally have a 400 seat theatre; this was accomplished by using retractable seating and by creating a drama room (stage) with an operable wall that opens onto the stage. A school this size would not normally have such a large student social area; this was accomplished by creating the Atrium which is also the main circulation area, also serving as crush space for entrance into the gymnasium, library, and theatre. This type of school would normally require more parking spaces, but the shared parking spaces with the adjacent Church enabled us to limit our parking and environmental footprint. A school this size would not nromally have such a large library and research space; this was achieved by doubling the library as a computer lab for class and individual student use.
-

Images (4)

Drawings (3)

First floor plan (Registration required)
image/tiff
Credit: Quinn Young Architects
Ground floor plan (Registration required)
image/tiff
Credit: Quinn Young Architects
Site plan (Registration required)
image/tiff
Credit: Quinn Young Architects