School main hallway with students and geometric staircase and wooden walls.

Duchess Park Secondary School


Prince George, BC

A diverse student population convenes in the student-named “Canyon” — a meeting place, a forum, a town plaza. A space that promotes and fosters a powerful sense of recognition and identity. This light-filled and airy central atrium acts as the vibrant and versatile social heart of Duchess Park Secondary School, the pride of students and teachers alike.


Areas of impact

A silhouette of a person walking by a large window and wooden wall
Theatre with red seats
Student siting in front of a large window
Design Challenge

The replacement Duchess Park Secondary School needed to support the unique needs of nearly 1,000 students and faculty and support their rich tradition for academic and athletic excellence while promoting inclusiveness. Delivered through a design-build model, the school accommodates additional programming needs compared to a standard Ministry of Education secondary school with a similar student population. It is also needed to achieve LEED Gold certification., and was the first school in BC to do so.

The design-build model was a relatively new form of procurement for both the education sector and the Prince George School District. Convinced that valuable learning takes place outside of the classroom, we integrated 20% more social space into the building without exceeding the Ministry’s budget.

People running in a gym with glass walls

School District No. 57 and School District No. 93 (Conseil Scolaire Francophone de la Colombie-Britannique) envisioned a state-of-the-art facility designed expressly for a northern climate to replace an aging building that they had outgrown. It was crucial for the design to promote inclusiveness among their diverse student body.

Library with high ceilings and a staircase leading to a balcony
Fostering a tight knit collegiate community

By prioritizing the spaces in between classrooms, we successfully created a physical and social environment more like a college campus than a traditional secondary school. The atrium supports a tight school community, fostering a sense of belonging, togetherness and purpose, and reducing problems with marginalization, separation and vandalism. The atrium also provides natural lighting to the interior rooms and unites the school between the academic block and athletic, industrial and fine-arts wings. Multiple breakout spaces support small group work and socializing.

Operational savings thanks to a sustainable design

A high-performance building envelope reduces the energy required to heat and cool the building. Compared to the typical energy consumption of a secondary school within the District, Duchess Park saves an estimated $80,000 annually on heating costs.

To ensure sustainability will be an integral part of the curriculum and student activities, the design-build team established a five-year sustainability scholarship to be awarded annually to a student who makes a significant contribution to advancing sustainability in their school and community.

View of levitated classroom with gym below
People playing volleyball in a gymnasium

“Attendance did improve, tardiness decreased, [there is] pride in the appearance of the building but also in the quality of work. Students enjoy all the day light and the general esthetics of the building. The “canyon” student mezzanine is well used and there is a sense of pride and ownership.”

Sherry Thibault, Principal

Front of Duchess Park Secondary School

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