School to be a showpiece of architectural art

Judging from design sketches of the new St. Patrick Catholic Elementary School, presented to trustees earlier this month, the new school building will be not only a welcome addition to the downtown community, but a showpiece of architectural art.

The school’s contemporary design is the work of Tony Svedas from Svedas Architects Inc., the firm behind recent school builds such Bishop Ryan and Bishop Tonnos, St. Gabriel’s in Winona, and Waterdown’s St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Elementary School.

However, don’t expect to see a repeat of any of those earlier designs in the new St. Patrick School. The one-of-a-kind design is the outcome of Ministry school templates, City of Hamilton urban design requirements, budget, lot size and school-parish needs – conditions which would normally present serious architectural limitations, but here only added fuel and creativity to the design.

So what will this new school offer? At 4,711 m² the building will provide three floors of beautifully apportioned space. The main floor entrance, located at the corner of East Avenue and Main Street, will open to a 2-storey vestibule featuring a stained glass window of the school’s patron saint, which will branch off into administrative offices, a spacious lobby, a breakfast area and meeting rooms. The kindergarten area will occupy the centre area of the school, adjoined to the north by a dedicated childcare/EarlyON centre, community parent centre and the De Mazenod Centre. De Mazenod, an outreach program operated by St. Patrick’s Church, will have its own entrance and will connect to the church. A buffer wall will be erected to separate the De Mazenod Court from the Kindergarten/childcare playground.

A 22-spot parking lot will be situated on the north-east corner of the property to service the childcare and community parent centre. An additional parking lot will be located off Victoria Avenue at Main Street, in compliance with the city’s parking requirements which require new development along the LRT to maintain a pedestrian-friendly and urban plaza feel.

The school’s second floor will house a 2-storey gymnasium, change rooms, a library, five classrooms, a teacher’s workroom and a special education room. The areas will be connected by a windowed corridor which will bring in natural light. The remainder of the classrooms will be located on the third floor for a total of 14 teaching areas.

The new school will be St. Patrick’s third incarnation since opening on Hunter Street in 1855. The school moved to its current location on East Avenue in 1912 and, in 2018, amalgamated with St. Brigid School. The new 383-pupil place St. Patrick Catholic Elementary School – including child care and an EarlyON centre – will be built at a cost of $11,150,470.

The final product is still a way off, but students and families in Ward 3 have much to look forward to.

Over these next several months, I pray – in the words of St. Patrick – that “the strength of God pilot us, may the wisdom of God instruct us, may the hand of God protect us, may the word of God direct us, and be always ours this day and for evermore.”

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