Firenze Condo project at Expo Blvd. and Abbott Street to include new school

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Cheryl Rossi
Van. Courier

A new urban school is slated to open across from Andy Livingstone Park in September 2015. The Ministry of Education has hired Francl Architecture to lead the design team.

The International Village elementary school will be integrated into the Firenze development, at Expo Boulevard and Abbott Street. Firenze includes two residential towers, commercial space and a childcare centre. The school will accommodate 60 full-day kindergarten and 450 students in grades 1 to 7.

The school will be constructed at grade above an existing parkade. The preliminary proposal envisions a multi-storey building with the main entrance on Expo Boulevard and space for before- and after-school care. Andy Livingstone Park will serve as the school’s outdoor play area. The school will serve the downtown core and Northeast False Creek.

“It opens more area for the local community to have their child educated locally,” says Kelly Isford-Saxon, the board’s facilities project manager. “That whole area appears to be growing dramatically in terms of families moving in that area and continuing to raise children. At one time they would move downtown but once a child got to school age, it seemed to be more common practice for them to move out of the urban core to find a house… Now more families are electing to stay downtown and now we’re really looking at and dealing with those requirements of having children in a very urban population.”

Even though four classrooms for 100 additional students opened at Elsie Roy elementary in Yaletown last September, 39 families were turned away for lack of space, the board’s director of facilities, Jim Meschino, told the Courier last week.

Lord Strathcona elementary is serving as the “home” school for students residing within the International Village school’s attendance area until the new school opens. The future catchment area for International Village will be bound by Burrard Inlet, Main and Burrard streets, and run down Davie Street, north on Homer and down Nelson Street.

The design team will focus on how to integrate a school with a largely residential development.

“We’re talking about neighbours coming together,” Isford-Saxon said. “We’re a different neighbour and the requirements of our residents in the tower and their needs maintaining views, privacy and those kinds of things [will be considered], and, of course, our needs of operating a school during the day and having spaces available, hopefully for the community, in the evenings and weekends.”

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