Big makeover for private school

A major project featuring new buildings and restoration of heritage structures at Glenlyon Norfolk School’s Beach Drive campus could start as early as this year.

Underground parking with 29 spaces for teachers and bicycle storage are also in the plans, which were approved in mid-November by Oak Bay council.

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“It is going to be started either this year or next year at the latest,” said Christopher Denford, the school’s chairman.

It is too early to state project costs, he said Wednesday.

The heritage house at 1701 Beach Dr. was once the home of architect Francis Rattenbury, a former reeve of Oak Bay. Today it is used for school purposes.

“The plan is basically to remove all the later additions and changes and bring it back closer to the way it was in 1912,” said Christopher Rowe of Low Hammond Rowe Architects.

The historic coach house and boathouse will also be renovated and enhanced. The coach house, at 1,795 square feet, will be the music room. The 840-square-foot boathouse will house the marine adventure program. The project will create more kayak and canoe storage under the junior kindergarten pavilion.

New energy efficient buildings will replace the existing gymnasium, classroom buildings and kindergarten buildings. A new rain garden will replace asphalt paving and the landscape plan calls for additional native plantings, all working to filter stormwater.

A new two-level classroom building, at 32,000 square feet, and two new 1,800 square feet buildings for kindergarten and pre-kindergarten schools will be built, Rowe said. The main building will include classrooms that can be separated or joined as needed.

Denford said in the main new building “we are doing away with the whole concept of the old-school approach to hallways with lockers. It’s basically a wide-open space on each floor that will allow spill-outs from the classrooms to have smaller groups get together.”

The bright, central area of the building, will allow all students to meet for assemblies, he said. This space will connect the first and second floors.

“Everyone will be able to look into the gym from the main level and also from the learning commons above. It will have significant glazing looking down into the gym,” Denford said.

“It’s really cutting-edge design.”

Underground parking will help relieve congestion on Beach Drive, Denford said.

The architect’s report to Oak Bay council states said the “overall design intent is to combine a modern and progressive image for the school — which follows a modern and progressive educational philosophy — with a respect for the heritage of the school, site and context, an expression of our West Coast culture, and a powerful connection to the unparalleled natural setting.”

The property was purchased in 1935 by Major Ian Simpson for the new Glenlyon School. Now Glenlyon Norfolk School’s Beach Drive campus serves about 225 students up to Grade 5, Denford said.

The senior campus is on Bank Street.

Major additions to Beach Drive were completed in the 1960s and early 1970s. The gym and classrooms are “well past their useful service life,” the report said.

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