Collaborative learning in the Rocky Mountains.
Banff Elementary School is the newest place of learning in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains for students enrolled from Kindergarten to Grade 8. Initially funded as a modernization to an existing elementary school the project evolved into a two-phase replacement school for Canadian Rockies Public Schools (CRPS). GEC worked extensively with the Town of Banff, the Canadian Rockies School Division, Parks Canada, Alberta Infrastructure and Alberta Learning to develop a comprehensive solution for the existing elementary school on Elk and Squirrel Street, which kept the original school safely operational through construction.
GEC designed Banff Elementary School as an environmentally sustainable, two-storey building. The shared spaces of the gymnasium, learning commons and administration suite are centralized off the main circulation spine and two two-storey classroom wings. The design provides collaborative space for students and staff off the main entry and acts as the social hub of the school, providing crush space when the gymnasium is used for large functions and gatherings. An adjacent multi-purpose room features a fully operable, retractable wall allowing it to open up to the main circulation spine and collaboration space. The school’s second-floor library is the heart of the school and was designed as a learning commons, visually and physically open to the rest of the building. The roof features photovoltaic panels, helping meet the energy requirements of the building and meeting the strict environmental standards for Banff National Park as set out by Parks Canada.
The second phase of Banff Elementary School provides community spaces including classrooms for the Out of School Care Program, a larger gymnasium to accommodate community and competitive events, and additional storage and locker room spaces. This phase also involved the demolition of the old school in accordance with Parks Canada and LEED requirements for landfill, recycling and segregation of building materials.