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A bridge to the future

Havergal’s Master Plan Expands the Horizons for Learning

Facilities that Inspire Learning

Over the next few years, Havergal will undergo a renovation project designed to strengthen our leadership position in girls’ education by offering an enhanced learning environment for young women to pursue a strong liberal arts education, just in time for our 125th anniversary.

For lead architect and Havergal Old Girl Sydney Browne (Class of 1982), Principal at Diamond Schmitt Architects, the project is close to her heart. As Havergal boarders, she and her two sisters spent formative years exploring the 22-acre school campus, watching the seasons change and partaking in familiar rituals such as the annual House Shout and Celebration Saturday events.

Her designs for both the Junior and Upper School reflect her appreciation for Havergal and its traditions, as well as for the school’s unique natural environment. The new classrooms will better support our approach to teaching and continue to provide space for collaborative learning.

“We want to provide students with an environment that inspires optimal learning,” Ms. Massie says. “Our goal is to enrich the student experience by providing exceptional spaces that support them on their educational journey.”


A new learning commons in the Upper School and a new dining wing in the Junior School will provide invaluable spaces for gathering, discussion and reflection. “So much learning happens through larger community events such as Prayers, and the very strong and important traditions that happen throughout the year, each and every year,” says Ms. Browne. “It is a major strength of the school, supported and enhanced by these new projects.”

At the same time, a commitment to environmental sustainability—a cornerstone of the strategic plan Havergal 2020: Our Vision is Limitless—is woven through almost every element of the project. Director of Facilities Lisa Massie, who has been working with Ms. Browne on the Master Plan since its inception, says the new buildings are targeting both LEED® Gold and Toronto Green Standard certification, which involves significant investment in energy efficiency, insulation, water use and many other ‘invisible’ standards of construction. In total, 48,000 square feet of space will be added, split almost evenly between the Junior School and the Upper School.

“We want to provide students with an environment that inspires optimal learning,” Ms. Massie says. “Our goal is to enrich the student experience by providing exceptional spaces that support them on their educational journey.”

New cutting-edge art and STEM facilities in both schools will incorporate modular furniture that can be configured for today’s teaching methods, offering more collaborative and hands-on spaces. Spaces of occasion—those that can be adapted to suit the needs of the day—will also accommodate many different activities and learning styles.  “The traditional classrooms of previous generations, with desks and chairs lined up facing the teacher, are a thing of the past,” says Ms. Massie.

The more visually striking aspects of the project aim to maximize the potential of the campus’ green space, adding outward-looking extensions to both the Junior and Upper School that open onto the natural beauty of the ravine. “There is something very special about the Havergal site,” Ms. Browne says. “There are so few places in the city that are far enough from traffic where you can open a window and feel the breeze coming through with minimal noise. The school can open up to the outdoors in ways you can’t do in many other places in Toronto.”

A three-storey Biowall planned in the Upper School’s new learning commons will act as a natural bio-filter designed to help improve air quality. As return air is drawn through the wall, microbes in the plant life break down volatile organic compounds (VOCs). “When you walk into a building that has a feature like this, you immediately notice the difference in air quality,” explains Ms. Browne.

The surrounding landscaping will include drought-resistant native plants, in addition to new outdoor spaces for teaching and learning. Efforts to restore and reconnect with the ravine date back to the 1990s with the creation of the Lisa Hardie Woodland Trail, and later the Burke Brook Stewardship Project, which aims to re-establish the area’s natural Carolinian forest.

“What we are trying to do is take those steps even further,” says Ms. Browne. “I cannot stress enough the number of connections we have designed between the indoors and the outdoors. We are looking forward to our vision becoming a reality once the construction phase kicks off this year.”