When the new Westpark Middle School opens in September 2019, it will be the most exciting and innovative school the province has ever seen.
This according to George Berry of Berry Architecture, who was part of a sod-turning Wednesday at the current school where he graduated in 1978.
During the school-wide assembly, Berry also emphasized the fact that the new school was designed in part by students themselves over the last several years.
"They had some very phenomenal suggestions. One that really blew our minds was they wanted to have a no WiFi zone, an area where they had to speak to each other instead of texting," he said. "For security reasons, we couldn't have that, but they came up with a lot of directions and ideas that were really integrating the school in with the Foundation and Pathways students, students who need that little bit extra service."
The list of ideas also included an anti-gravity room and fingerprint recognition lockers, which to the dismay of students didn't make the cut.
However, the school will be 100 per cent accessible, including the playground. There will be a see-through elevator situated in the middle of the school instead of off to the side, yet another idea the students were adamant about.
Another feature of the school will be its solar technology which will provide 40 per cent of the power needed to operate the school. Berry adds that the design will allow for expansion up to 125 per cent keeping the door open for power to be diverted back to the grid or even to West Park Elementary at a future date.
Plans also call for expanded offices for Red Deer Minor Baseball as well as concession and washroom facilities. The third floor will serve as a teaching/observation mezzanine for Red Deer College. As well, the three-floor school will be certified LEED Gold and plans were altered earlier this summer to change four planned modular classrooms to permanent structures. The entire building will have approximately 55,000 square feet of floor space.
"This is where my architectural career began," Berry continued. "I'm looking forward to taking a brick out of the room back here and keeping it as a souvenir."
The student design committee will continue working alongside Berry Architecture and Shunda Consulting & Construction throughout the build. Demolition of the current school will take place once the new one is complete.
The new facility doesn't come cheap. The province is putting up just over $15 million, with contributions of $200,000 and $100,000 coming from The City of Red Deer and Red Deer Minor Baseball, respectively.
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