Flexibility the key to TMS reaching its building design goals.
“The building feels open and connected to the outside and the kids are calm. It’s an enormous compliment to the work of ZAS Architects who helped us construct that environment.” – Dr. Glenn Zederayko, Head of School at TMS School
The Elgin Campus represents the merging of two educational philosophies. Toronto Montessori School (TMS) wished to extend its approach into the middle-school and high-school curriculum. The academically rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) program was a great fit but TMS’ Primary campus was at capacity. A new building at the Elgin Mills campus needed to reflect this merging of philosophies. The school features highly configurable classrooms that offer flexibility in how to teach and learn and provide space for the students of both programs to mingle and learn from each other.
“TMS was looking for a design that would provide the maximum amount of flexibility in terms of educational programming and in how it could be delivered, whether it was through group or individual study, one-on-one coaching between peers or with a teacher. We employed that same philosophy through the public areas.” – Paul Stevens, Senior Principal, ZAS Architects, who designed and built the new school.
It creates a curated learning environment. Montessori education encourages students to be independent, to think and learn on their own. The inviting nooks built under stairways and the wide corridors provide students unconventional places to study or hang out, alone or in groups. The large classrooms are easily joined for collaboration, reflecting the focus on cross-curricula units and themes. Even the classroom furniture is flexible, allowing for both traditional teaching and group work.
Phased development made it economically possible. Given that most of the Elgin campus students would be graduates of the elementary school, it would take years for enrollment to reach a natural size. ZAS provided a master plan for 20-plus years of growth, allowing TMS to build its ideal school in three phases, while ensuring that the additions melded seamlessly with the original building.
The building is a recruitment tool. The school’s positive street impression is critical for a private school that survives on recruitment. Lots of glass is used in the façade, such as the library’s floor-to-ceiling rounded windows facing the street, to demonstrate transparency. A great deal of stone is used on the exterior, lending it richness and gravitas.
“Parents look at the space and realize that it’s built to accommodate learning. It’s impressive without being ostentatious. People feel, ‘Yeah, I’d like to see my children go to that school. They will learn a lot there.’”– Dr. Glenn Zederayko