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Sir John A. MacDonald High School

Education

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The site overlooking St. Margaret’s Bay is a quiet, tree-enclosed hilltop ‘room’ with spectacular views out to sea. The high school reinforces and becomes part of this setting as it gently curves around to complete the landscape. An arcade along the south elevation forms a protected bus-loop waiting area for 1,100 students.

At the heart of the plan are the double-height entry, student commons, library, administration and cafeteria spaces. One can move and see through the building, out of the cafeteria and to the football field beyond.  The connection between entry, cafeteria, terrace and field was significant as a social organizer and for the community.

The materials are in the vernacular of the Nova Scotia budget-oriented commercial construction industry: structural insulated tilt-up concrete, steel structure and metal cladding. The stereotomic quality of the concrete “secures” the ends of the building and acts as a saddle for the metal boxes that project out from the plan. Each material allows for different window arrangements. The tilt-up concrete suggests punch openings, whereas the metal wall can handle larger openings with steel infill members. Curtain walls are used between the concrete tilt-up panels, at stairwells and in other public parts of the building.

The cooperative process between client, general contractor and design team enabled the project to come in under budget and to be designed and built in two years. The building received LEED Silver for its energy efficiency and water conservation strategies.

Type: Educational
Location: Tantallon, Nova Scotia