Old school, new school

Regent Park students will return to their alma mater this month after a long awaited retrofit of the existing school, the oldest school in Toronto that is still standing on its original site, is complete. A part of Regent Park’s extensive, multi-phased revitalization plan, the project, designed by Toronto-based CS&P Architects, consists of a full retrofit and modernization of the existing heritage-designated Nelson Mandela Park Public School to accommodate 660 pupils, a full day kindergarten and City of Toronto child care centre.

Highlights of the new Nelson Mandela Park Public School include:

– A tiered amphitheatre in the centre of the school that links the first floor to the lower ground floor. Ideal for formal or informal gatherings or presentations, it is the central focus of the new school, fostering collaboration and unity among students and casting natural light into the heart of the building.

– Taking advantage of the heritage building’s existing tall exterior windows, narrow, dark classroom doorways have been replaced by large glazed glass screens that add more natural light and open up the physical space to encourage interaction.

– An Early Years Centre with a full day Kindergarten, Parenting Centre and Child Care Facility have been added.

– The Child Care Centre and north Kindergartens include a new glazed addition on the north facade that opens into a protected, sunlit courtyard at the ground floor lower level, featuring an imaginative playground designed for naturalized play. Fostering a connection to nature, materials like wood and water are incorporated.

– A 310sm school library addition and a new level entrance have been created on the north side of the school. The library, which formerly existed inside two separate classrooms, is centrally located and easily accessible to students and parents.

– The north entrance opens onto the park and connects with other new Regent Park community amenities, giving the building two facades, including the main entrance at 440 Shuter Street.

– Outdoor amenities include a full artificial turf field that is accessible during all seasons and a hard surface play area. Both will be available for use by the school and community.

“We’re proud and excited to welcome Regent Park students back to their new school,” says CS&P principal, Maureen O’Shaughnessy. “In the 1930’s, Park Public School students sat in rows of desks that were bolted to the floor. Today’s teaching methods encourage collaboration and foster teamwork. We believe the new school offers students a better and more dynamic environment to succeed in.”

The newly retrofitted school is LEED silver certified and will be part of a larger community hub that includes a new community centre with a gymnasium, employment centre, community kitchen, banquet hall, adult and kids lounges and other multi-purpose rooms. Also designed by CS&P, the community centre will connect with the school and be shared by students. Construction is due to start later in the year.

Nelson Mandela Park Public School is a restored heritage building from 1915. The original school building was built in 1853 and was one of only three city public schools. From 1914- 1917, construction of the new school enabled enrollment for 1259 students, making it the largest school built in Canada at the time. Originally named Park Public School after the area north of Lake Ontario and east of Parliament to the Don River, which was known as “the park,” the school was renamed in 2001 to honour one of the most important fighters for democracy, freedom and justice in the 20th century. Mr. Mandela attended the renaming ceremony and gave an address to students where he told them, “You are the future leaders of the world.”

About CS&P

CS&P Architects Inc. is one of Canada’s leading architectural practices, offering architectural, planning, interior and urban design services to a wide range of public and private sector clients. Since the firm’s inception in 1962, a significant focus of our practice has been the design of public spaces and community-focused projects for recreational, judicial, and educational uses. Our objective in developing these projects is to discover imaginative and meaningful ways to connect these buildings with their contexts.

CS&P Architects is a registered corporate member with the Canada Green Building Council, and a founding member of the Toronto Chapter; the U.S. Green Building Council; and is registered with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Program [LEED]. Several members of our firm are leading advocates in the field, serving as guest speakers at conferences and institutions across Canada and the United States. We advocate a responsible use of resources and a comprehensive review of design concepts for durability and impact on operating costs. For more information, please visit csparch.com