George Berry with Berry Architecture and Associates, and Grade 8 student Isaac Boettcher, led tours of the Westpark Middle School currently under construction. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/ADVOCATE STAFF)

Westpark Middle School in Red Deer first to have solar chimney in Alberta

Students moving into the new Westpark Middle School next fall won’t get the Harry Potter moving staircase they proposed.

But Grade 8 student Isaac Boettcher said the stairs near the main assembly area will always be known as the Harry Potter stairs.

A Student Design Committee collaborated with Berry Architecture, Shunda Construction. Student recommendations included an elevator so all spaces in the building are accessible to students with mobility challenges, as well as a glass wall to view the elevator’s mechanics; windows into the school’s mechanical room; and an area to hang out or study with a water feature that can also be used as part of science class.

“If they are given an opportunity, (students) can make a big change,” said Boettcher after a tour of the $18-million facility that will be open in the fall.

George Berry, senior partner with Berry Architecture and Associates, said students also wanted an energy efficient school so a solar chimney — that no other Alberta school has — will circulate the air to reduce heating and cooling costs.

“This building is effectively one classroom. Wherever they walk in the building, they’re learning. They’re experiencing and seeing what a building is like, how we can tie science and mathematics and art and English into the building’s design overall,” Berry said.


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Bev Manning, board chair with Red Deer Public Schools, said it’s been incredible to see students taking a role in design.

“We are over the moon proud,” Manning said.

Community input has also been part of the project. Red Deer Minor Baseball will have an office at the school and education students from Red Deer College will have access for their studies.

She said the school will likely open at capacity with 500 students which speaks to the district’s need for a new middle school in northeast Red Deer.

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Officials from Red Deer Public Schools got a tour of the new Westpark Middle School that is under construction. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/ADVOCATE STAFF)

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