Project File: Recycling design plans

A few years ago, the Hamilton-Wentworth School District, Hamilton, Ontario, had about 10,000 empty seats. Its 132 schools required a total of $113 million in deferred maintenance to bring them up to standards. Yet, the district was able to eliminate obsolete and underused facilities without resorting to deficit financing.

The school's revitalization strategy calls for the elimination of the equivalent of 29 350-seat schools by 2008. Nine new community-based facilities will be built on the same sites as the closed schools.

Instead of designing new schools piecemeal, the architect developed prototypes that share the same functional capacity and programmatic elements, but offer different floorplates to suit varying site conditions. Using the prototypes has enabled the district to buy in bulk, and save on material costs and design fees.

The designs have passive security measures that allow zones to run independently. On weekends, the community can access the gym and locker rooms directly from sports fields. The designs also can accommodate a separate daycare facility within the building.

The existing school remains in session while the new school is under construction. When each new school is finished, the old school will be demolished, resulting in a seamless transition.

The architect for this project is The Ventin Group Architects (Cambridge, Ontario).

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