Chinook’s public meeting sketches potential features for new Pre-K to Grade 8 school
The first public meeting to discuss potential design features for the new PreKindergarten to Grade 8 public school in Swift Current drew about six parents, stakeholders and community members in addition to several Chinook School Division Board members, administrative staff, the architectural team and media.
Charles Olfert, architect with aodbt architecture + interior design, narrated a slideshow history of educational architecture dating back to ancient Greece before fastforwarding to the stately brick school era of the early 1900s.
After discussing the changes in architecture that were driven first by the austerity of two world wars and then economic recovery in the 1950s, echoed “institutional” characteristics and bright colours through the 1980s, featured student common areas and natural light through the 1990s, and emerged as multi-level, community-integrated and joint projects that celebrated student mobility with the advent of laptop computers beginning in 2000, Olfert then presented some of the educational designs and projects aodbt has completed.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) consultant with aodbt, Mitch Strocen, discussed potential features of form and engineering that transform identified needs into buildings that become a “functional, inspiring, efficient and sustainable” conjunction of many unique elements.
Current considerations include 50 child-care spaces in addition to Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 8 facilities, innovative and integrated areas for recreation and study that incorporate natural areas and elements, possibly a performing arts centre in partnership with the community, and flexible features that serve multiple functions, such as physical education tracks that are also nature trails, parking areas that can host farmers’ markets on weekends, or community gardens that create outdoor learning opportunities.
Environmental factors such as prevailing winds, site drainage and storm water catchment will influence the location of sports facilities, recreation areas and busing drop-off zones that minimize congestion. Contributing to sustainability are features that might include the use of renewable energy sources, passive solar systems, waste reduction initiatives and allow for building re-use in the future.
On the “wants” list for some of the parents were walking and bike paths and age appropriate play areas on the grounds, no dangerous materials used in construction relative to sustainability considerations and, in the school itself, common areas in hallways and eye-level windows that open.
Members of the Chinook School Division Board met with architect Charles Olfert, centre, parents, teachers and other stakeholders at Swift Current Comp. on June 20.