Part of the BC Ministry of Education’s Seismic Mitigation Program, the new two-storey, 34,000 square foot elementary school embraces a modern design with open learning spaces. The use of cross-laminated timber as the primary construction material for this project will be a flagship for the Vancouver School Board as one of the district’s first CLT schools. The timber will be exposed on both walls and ceilings within large areas of the building, providing a warm and inviting environment for students.

The school was renamed wək̓ʷan̓əs tə syaqʷəm on December 9th. It was selected in collaboration with the Musqueam language and culture department in recognition of Vancouver’s Hastings Sunrise neighbourhood where the school is located. Learn how to pronounce wək̓ʷan̓əs tə syaqʷəm.

Project Essentials

  • LocationVancouver, BC
  • ClientVancouver School Board
  • ArchitectHCMA Architecture + Design
  • Size34,000 ft² (3,200 m²)

The new school building is situated on the middle tier of the school site, with the existing school located on the upper level. Given the constrained tiered site configuration, and the mandate that the existing school remains operational during construction, Fast + Epp employed a number of design and prefabrication methods to speed up construction time and to minimize disruption to both the students and the neighborhood. Innovative and efficient hybrid systems have also been implemented to achieve the desired architectural form – creating a beautiful and welcoming community building.

Fast + Epp also partnered with the University of Northern British Columbia and the University of Alberta to conduct a series of testing programs for improved material and performance efficiency. The successful integration of these innovative systems may lead the way for other school designs that follow. With the use of mass timber, approximately 1,025 tonnes of carbon are embodied in the wood.

Read the Wood Use in British Columbia Schools report to learn about the advances in wood technology, types of wood construction in schools, building codes and more.

“This school serves as a great example of the potential that can be realized with mass timber construction. In addition to meeting the demands of the seismic mitigation program, the timber framing systems used in these kinds of buildings will provide warm, inviting spaces.”

Nick Bevilacqua, P.Eng., Managing Principal with Fast + Epp