It almost makes you wish you were back in school…

The administrative offices are straight ahead and the counsellors' offices are to the left. Laura Stovel photo

By Laura Stovel

There was a time when schools were beautiful places that inspired learning. The old wing of Mountain View School and the old Selkirk School (now demolished) were of that era.  Then, for decades, schools were built to be functional and as inexpensive as possible. There was little or no attention to detail in these rectangular boxes, little thought about the beauty of materials; these institutions were, well… institutions and they felt like it.

The new Revelstoke Secondary School feels like going back to the future.  The architects, working closely with the Revelstoke School Board and school superintendent Anne Cooper, designed a school that would inspire learning, athleticism, creativity, sociability, ethics and an appreciation for beauty. The new building, even unfinished, has a feeling of warmth, light and space.

The ethical commitment is to the environment and community as the planners sought to use local materials. The new RSS is being built to meet LEED Gold standards, in part by being heated from the District Energy Project. Enormous picture windows, with spectacular views of the mountains, figure prominently and Cooper notes that every occupied space has access to natural light. The design also incorporates passive solar principles such as no windows on the West side where the summer sun can overheat rooms in the warmer months.

The school ceiling features beautiful tongue-and-groove fir logged locally from the Akolkolex Valley and milled at Downie Sawmill, said Cooper, adding that the classrooms are framed in wood, rather than steel as part of “our commitment to wood.”

The builders are working from west to east, laying the tongue-and-groove ceiling with a waterproof membrane over it to enable workers to work beneath it. “The snow has not stopped us as you can see,” said senior project manager, Ramsay Brunton.

Brunton said that “it will take a lot of long days and long nights” to complete the project on time but they are sure they can do it. The elementary school will be open in September and they expect the high school to be open by November 1 or earlier, “whenever it’s ready,” he said.  The theatre, on the east side, will be completed last.

Cooper noted that the school board does not risk having the project go over budget. “It’s a design build,” Cooper said, “so Graham (the construction company) takes all the risk on the budget. That’s a big advantage for a small school board.”

Currently the project has 80 workers, increasing to around 200 in the peak construction time. Around 30% of the workers are local.

Here is a selection of photos from the tour:

Tongue and groove cedar, logged in the Akolkolex Valley and milled at Downie Sawmill, lends warmth and beauty to the new school. There is also a feeling of spaciousness and light that should inspire learning. Laura Stovel photo
A view of the new drama room. Laura Stovel photo
Another gathering space next to the offices of the learning assistants. Laura Stovel photo
Entrance to the gymnasium with the public entrance to the left of it. Laura Stovel photo
he massive gymnasium has room for 3 basketball courts or one large court. Bleachers will be to the left. At the back are windows leading to a public space so that people will be able to view the gym from above. Laura Stovel photo
Even the hallways have a feeling of warmth and light. Laura Stovel photo
This multipurpose room will be a gathering place for students. Casual seating is built in by the windows and a door out to a beautiful deck. Laura Stovel photo
A view of the public entrance from the inside. To the left is the gymnasium. Laura Stovel photo
he new theatre on the east side will be the last to be built. Laura Stovel photo
This is a view of the new administrative offices from the north side with the main entrance just east of the offices. The new building features many windows to allow for natural light. The ceiling and waterproof membrane are being added from west to east, allowing workers to work inside. Laura Stovel photo
The woodwork shop has a second level above for storing lumber. Students can walk outside if they need to, sheltered by the deck above. Laura Stovel photo