Situated in the historic Crescents neighbourhood of Prince George, B.C., Canada, Duchess Park Secondary School is a state-of-the-art building designed expressly for its northern climate. The two-level school sustains a diverse educational community of nearly 1000 individuals. The general environment of the school – that of a modern collegiate campus – maintains the school community’s rich tradition of academic and athletic excellence while promoting inclusiveness to all of its students.
A fundamental design concept and a key element of the brief is the creation of a multi-purpose atrium space as a vibrant and versatile social heart for the school. Upon arrival, the layout of the public areas is clear. Students, faculty and guests of all ages quickly feel at home and can find their way intuitively and without direction. It becomes a meeting place, a forum, a town plaza – a space that promotes and fosters the best sense of recognition and identity that creates a strong and vibrant learning community. The Principal has reported that the replacement school has experienced a decline in absenteeism and increased attendance.
DPSS has become the first LEED Gold Certified school in British Columbia. The building incorporates a wide variety of sustainable design strategies including a high performance building envelope, ample day lighting, natural ventilation and low-emitting materials. Although Prince George is far from major manufacturers of building materials and products, regionally sourced materials, FSC-certified wood and materials with high recycled content were extensively used in the project. The general contractor and several of the consultants were based in Prince George, giving a boost to the local economy and creating a strong sense of pride for everyone involved in the project. Energy consumption for the building is 100kWhr/sq.m.. Compared to a district’s typical secondary school’s 260kWhr/sq.m consumption, this translates into an estimated annual savings of $80,000.