St. Joseph High School elevates the learning landscape, broader community, and economic development of Red Deer, both as a product of its completion and as a result of its holistic design process. The new space functions as a cornerstone for the Catholic School Board, and as part of an innovative campus, integrating with public and francophone high schools. In partnership with the City of Red Deer, the school provides major recreational and cultural services, including a large facility for the Red Deer Royals Marching Band, the largest track and field and competitive soccer fields used by the city.
Working with the Catholic School Board and community groups, specific goals for the new St. Joseph High School were developed to meet the needs of the facilities users. These goals were fundamental to decisions made in successful completion of the school. The goals developed are as follows:
- Complete the new school on time and on budget;
- Develop an innovative 21st Century Learning environment that supports student achievement;
- Develop collaborative environments to support strong community and educational partnerships.
The development of an extensive education and recreation campus was envisioned opposite of Clearview Market, a major commercial and retail development in North East Red Deer. The campus services beyond the immediate neighbouring communities and is the second education/ recreational hub created in Red Deer. As such it was important to engage well beyond traditional projects. Stakeholders included City of Red Deer, Red Deer Royals Marching band, three different school boards, students, educators, local businesses, and neighbouring residents.
21st Century Learning
The educational environment is constructed by 6 learning neighbourhoods, each flexibly designed using 21st Century Learning as a guiding concept, and brought together by common learning areas. Flexibility of space within each neighbourhood allows learning areas to be reconfigured to suit teaching and learning styles. Neighbourhoods are connected by maker spaces, dispersed learning tools, help desks, and common areas, creating a spatial flow within the school designed to encourage interaction between students and teachers. The heart of these common areas are the learning stairs, a versatile feature that combines student gathering, circulation, learning and collaboration with opportunity for social and religious event space.
The physical design incorporates simple but elegant materials like corrugated metal, wood finish siding and concrete block to connect to the prairie landscape. Simple forms and details give the building scale and provide natural wayfinding by accenting entries with form and colour.
The design strategy used large simple masses that could minimize surface area and improve efficiency. Daylight was strategically introduced to each learning neighborhood with a large full height curtain wall in each learning commons. The central common spaces have both large south facing windows and clerestory windows to add generous daylight to the entire interior. The learning resource centre and the CTS programs are distributed around this central two storey space.
Results and Achievement
The creation of a site for advanced educational collaboration between multiple school boards in a campus style setting is a unique legacy of the project. It is an approach that prioritizes students success and looks to create strong collaborative relationships between boards that benefit learners and the community. While St. Joseph High School represents the first element of this campus it fully fulfilled this vision by creating broad community partnerships that saw the development of expanded recreation and cultural amenities that will benefit not only the 1,200 Catholic High School students that occupy the site but also the 3,700 other high school students who will attend the campus in the future.