The Bishop Strachan School Junior School and Athletic Additions

Building a school where girls can do anything.

The Bishop Strachan School Junior School And Athletic Additions

The new wing for the prestigious Bishop Strachan School was designed, in association with Les Andrew and Anthony Kemp of Andrew Bogdan Kemp Architects, to house new classrooms, fitness facilities, a full gymnasium and underground parking. The new Junior School, and related sports facilities, fulfilled the school’s overdue need for new classroom and physical educational/fitness space within the limited boundaries of the school’s historically designated property in Toronto’s established Forest Hill neighbourhood. The classrooms are clustered together in a new academic wing, which reflects the wing/quadrangle form of the existing collegiate architecture. The new wing, creates a functional courtyard for playgrounds while reducing the mass of the building along the street, integrating it with the surrounding residential context. To preserve the highly valued outdoor playing field and tennis courts and create a dynamic activity zone, the fitness centre, gymnasium and parking are located below grade and connected to the main building via a skylit corridor link. Redesign of the existing entrance circle and parking areas unifies the exterior image with the new construction.

Client

The Bishop Strachan School

Site

2.76 ha block in the heart of Toronto’s traditional Forest Hill neighbourhood

Program

Addition of new classrooms, fitness centre, full gymnasium and underground parking.

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Heritage and History

Adding to the rich, nearly 150 year old history of the institution, the new academic wing provides the needed space to grow for Canada’s oldest girls school.

The design of the addition was intended to match the style, scale and materials of the original 1912 building while providing new amenities and a redesigned entrance to unify both the historic and new buildings.

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Craft and Construction

Constructed on 2.76ha of land, the Bishop Strachan School project includes approximately 90,000 square feet of additional educational space. Services included pre-design, programming and phasing, assistance with fundraising, zoning and planning approvals, full design and interior design services, contract administration and commissioning.

A large construction undertaking, the project had several elements including heritage concerns, an extensive study into lighting and fencing and a below grade gymnasium and underground parking to maximize playing grounds.

Through an innovative use of the site’s topography, the design team met the extensive program requirements and preserved the valuable sports fields while respecting the scale of the surrounding neighbourhood.  The classrooms are organized within a compact 3-storey classroom wing, linked to the existing campus of school buildings, drop-offs and courtyards.  The fitness, gymnasium and parking set underground, utilize the change in grade, with daylighting from skylights and strategically placed window walls and light wells.  The new complex sensitively integrates and reflects its context through minimizing its footprint and maximizing green, outdoor play areas.

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Design Details

The Junior School additions extend the school’s existing architecture in its massing, delineation of courtyards, and materials, while creating state-of-the art educational and gathering spaces. It provides green roofs, energy efficient mechanical systems, and an architectural character that reflects the heritage context of the existing buildings and the neighbourhood. Construction of these additions took place during full occupancy of the school throughout the process.

Traditional large framed windows allow for natural light to create beautifully lit spaces.

By engineering and designing a below grade gymnasium, surface level playing grounds are retained allowing for a natural tree framed setting for exercise and fitness.

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