Dr. Anne Anderson High School – Edmonton

New High School with Deep Cultural Ties Protected by HardStop™ Panels

Dr. Anne Anderson High School stairwell with HardStop Panels

The History

Dr. Anne Anderson was a dedicated author and teacher whose tireless efforts in preserving the Cree language and Métis heritage is unmatched in Canadian history. An author of more than 90 books, Dr. Anne Anderson “often spoke about the need to respect all cultures and learn from one another.”

Dr. Anne’s legacy is forever cemented with the opening of Dr. Anne Anderson High School in Edmonton, Alberta. The newly constructed school features nearly 220,000 square feet of floor area and hosts approximately 1,800 students, with capacity in the core for up to 2,400 students.

The architects and designers of the school wanted to continue Dr. Anne’s inclusive legacy, creating a space where all students felt welcome and could learn at their own pace.

“The concept of the Dr. Anne Anderson High School is developed to create collaborative, project based learning environments that support individualized and engaging learning experiences for each student in an Edmonton Public Schools’ high school,” said Dustin Braun, Architect with aodbt architecture + interior design

But the sheer size of the school presented the first challenge.

“The challenge was to create a space that accommodated all the students while still feeling intimate and not overwhelming,” Braun said. “This was achieved with the use of different learning pods and cores.”

Central to the design was the Agora, a large central space that links all the learning pods to create a cohesive space for staff and students. The agora is highlighted by a teepee in honor of Dr. Anne, with each pole featuring Cree language that represents things that were important to her.

Dr. Anne Anderson High School Agora

Design Details – Preserving the Beauty

Like Dr. Anne’s legacy, the school bearing her name was designed to last for generations to come. Growth, durability and sustainability are all key factors in the design that were listed among the main goals of the project by the architects and the designers.

“Our team always looks to present options that provide the client with the best long term solution,” said Nicole Tiessen, Principal Interior Designer with aodbt architecture + interior design. “We look at balancing initial cost with the lifecycle cost of maintenance.”

Among those long term solutions were local materials and recycled products, the maximization of natural daylight, and HardStop™ Decorative Protection Panels – an innovative wall protection product with a fiberglass core from Formica Group.

“The HardStop panels provide a durable product that protects the walls from damage and repair, thus reducing ongoing maintenance costs,” Tiessen said. “Protecting the walls in educational facilities is incredibly important to ensuring that that facility looks good for years to come. Having a product that is not only impact resistant but adds a level of design interest to the space made this option very appealing to the design team.”

To fit with the nature-inspired theme, the designers specified HardStop in 5883 Pecan Woodline and 8844 Aged Ash for the stairwells, accent areas and locker banks. All total, more than 500 HardStop Panels with hundreds of clear anodized trim pieces were selected for Dr. Anne Anderson High School and sourced from distributor Formations

“Hardstop allowed us to provide a beautiful finished product without compromising the design intent, code requirements, or durability required for the application,” said Kelsey Eschrich, Interior Designer, BR2 Architecture.

Dr. Anne Anderson High School Lockers with HardStop Panels

The Installation Process

Of course, once a design is turned over to the general contractors and installers, its incumbent upon their teams to make the vision come to life. Given that HardStop was still relatively new to the market as construction on Dr. Anne Anderson High School commenced, Clark Builders (general contractors) and XMG Commercial Floor Coverings (installers) were working with the material for the first time.

“This was our first experience with HardStop, but from the beginning, I was impressed with the combination of aesthetics and protection that it offered,” said TJ Williams, Project Manager, Clark Builders. “The multiple colour options presented made for a tough choice as many of the others would have looked amazing in the school.”

Chris Uchman, Senior Project Manager with XMG Commercial Floor Coverings, found the HardStop panels easier to work with than competitive products on the market.

“We were brought on to do the hard and soft flooring for the school, but our installers were excited to try a new application on the vertical surfaces as well,” Uchman said. “We watched the online installation videos and reached out when we had questions, but the process went very smoothly. We also found that because HardStop is easier to install than other wall protection products, it made it that much easier to work with at heights, too.”

Dr. Anne Anderson High School stairwell with HardStop Panels

The Results

Of course, the real test of any new design is the reaction of the clients. But with a school as beautiful as Dr. Anne Anderson High School, there’s no question that it will be a beloved jewel in the city of Edmonton for decades to come.

“We have received nothing but positive comments throughout the project from both our design and construction team and our end users,” Eschrich said. “The ease of installation allowed us to turn over spaces quickly, and therefore we continued to incorporate Hardstop as a solution throughout the remainder to the project.”

Williams from Clark Builders was more direct in his praise for the design.

“You would be hard pressed to find a more stunning high school in Western Canada.”

Dr. Anne Anderson High School Stairwell with HardStop Panels

Michael Wach

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