Southern Okanagan Secondary School welcome students again this September!
Flashback to September 2011: KMBR Architects and CEI Architecture had been working on an extensive renovation and addition to the school. A landmark in Oliver, the original school was built in 1948 at cost of over $1 million, and was designed in the Art Deco Streamline Moderne Style.
As students filled the halls that September, they had access to a bright new gymnasium, science lab and multi-purpose space, and renovations to the existing classroom wing, library and Frank Venables Auditorium were underway.
Soon after the school year started, a massive fire destroyed the existing older structure, causing School District 53 and the design team to go back to the drawing board. As part of the addition, the design and construction team included a firewall between the existing school and the new facilities, so the newly added space remained intact. Gregg Brown, the KMBR partner-in-charge of the project, recalls, “The fire was devastating and hard on everyone involved. But the focus had to be on moving forward, to raising a new facility from the ashes that the community would be proud of.”
A new scope of work was outlined, in which the team would design a new 395-seat theatre, theatre lobby, library and classroom wing, to replace the spaces destroyed in the fire. They would also add a neighbourhood learning centre, with a daycare, community counseling and adult learning space. The project was fast-tracked due to the urgency of getting students out of temporary accommodations (portables) and into a permanent and properly equipped and designed learning environment.
“The objective was to design a contemporary school that embraces the principles of 21st century learning,” says Nick Bevanda, architect and partner with CEI Architecture. “The resulting spaces have a flexible design that can adapt over time to changes in methods of teaching, technology needs and other educational evolutions.”
Now complete, the finished result is breathtaking, fostering formal and informal learning, and social interaction.