Pitt River Middle School
Port Coquitlam, BC
Square Footage: 60,040
LEED NC Gold Registered
2015, Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia Award of Merit, AIBC
With 68% of the property below the 100-year flood elevation and a requirement that the existing building remain open throughout construction, we were left with a small hillside site to build a 60,063 square foot (5,580 square meter) replacement middle school for 450 students in grades six through eight.
The design process began with the school district discarding their outdated design guidelines and undertaking an engagement process with students, faculty, staff, administration, parents, and the community. Core to this district’s pedagogy is a team approach to teaching, so the school is composed of clusters of classrooms centered on flexible collaboration spaces. Walls are movable, allowing myriad spatial reconfigurations. The building’s short-term flexibility is matched by its long-term adaptability through the rigorous use of a repeated structural module. The repetitive nature of the building’s components supported a high degree of prefabrication and cost reduction.
As faculty, staff, and students arrive, bi-folding shutters that protect the building from vandalism are opened to reveal the warmth of the timber columns. In their open position the perforated shutters provide solar shading, and they can be lowered to provide glare control.
The overall form of the building is an efficient double-loaded corridor that has been bent to fit the available site and maintain an optimal solar orientation. The building’s hinge occurs at the point which separates the school’s spaces from those shared with the community: an Aboriginal Welcome Centre and a Centre for Sport Development, along with office, classroom, and meeting spaces.