The history of St-Jean-Eudes College, a private French-language high school in Québec spans over 80 years. Yet administrators know that to remain relevant in the continually changing landscape of education it is crucial to evolve to meet the cultural, intellectual, and technological needs of students.
The most recent effort in the perpetual improvement of facilities for St-Jean-Etudes’ College is the renovation of the Carol-Pelletier Library. The project endeavored to transform the existing space- formerly a vast, two-story rectangular chapel- into a multi-functional modern facility. Inaugurated in December 2019, the newly re-imagined Carol-Pelletier Success Center exemplifies the school’s commitment to meeting the standards set by the “Carrefour de la Réussite” (translation: Crossroads of Success), a renown French language educational initiative.
BGLA Architecture + Urban Design won the project in a 2017 architectural competition. With three locations in Québec and almost 45 years of experience, BGLA is expert in revaluation of historic centers and reuse of built heritage. “For BGLA, this architectural project is the outcome of a process that places context (mainly historical, social and even human aspects) at the heart of planning and implementation,” said BGLA architect, Armelle La Chance. “The design for the Success Center originated in the study of the existing space- which was the former chapel of the educational institution. The intent was to energize the very organized and austere building. We considered all details in order to create various atmospheres for students. Did we want a specific area to be bright or darker? Colorful or neutral? Calm or animated? Isolated or accommodating to frequent meetings?”
In the case of the re-imagined library at St-Jean Eudes College, the answer was all of the above. Dictated by the expectations and standards of top-tier educational institutions, the design objectives for the Success Center were multi-faceted. The school wanted to increase the public areas and make the facility more dynamic, while simultaneously adding discreet areas for meetings, work and reflection- all within the original footprint. To achieve this, BGLA used a combination of theme and color cues - executed with high-performance materials- to define the function of designated spaces.
“Our vision was to install a unique Circle form into the space which would catalyze energy. The introduction of the circular mezzanine and staircase was essential from the onset. The strong structure is suspended throughout the space, creating two levels and establishing spatial and visual interconnections through top and bottom views. It allows the facility to be more dynamic, meeting the usage requirements for different group and individual activities,” said La Chance. “This central architectural feature multiplies the possibilities of the library, projecting it into the 21st Century.”
The circular theme is carried throughout the project, and symbolizes the school’s guiding principles: to instruct, socialize and qualify students so they acquire the necessary tools to carry out their projects in a constantly changing world. In the public spaces the previously dark blue walls were painted white to take advantage of natural light streaming through high windows. To achieve the desired effect of wood planking on the mezzanine, BGLA used a new unrolled type of wood veneer appropriate for vertical applications. Arborite high pressure laminate in Cinnamon Twill (P383) and Olive Twill (P385) was specified for the work surfaces in the individual areas.
“BLGA selects materials to go beyond the customer’s expectation. Incorporating materials into the design story helps build the brand or culture for the project,” said La Chance. “For example, the layout in the lower level creative room is isolated from the larger space by an oversized partition wall into which the monochromatic work capsules are embedded. These circular, comfortable, and colorful cocoons promote concentration and learning. Felt was used on the walls for acoustics, while durable Arborite high pressure laminate was specified for the desktops to seamlessly blend the colorful nooks and create unique atmospheres and ambiences.”
St-Jean Eudes’ College’s Carol-Pelletier Success Center is more than a renovated library. With its new media library, computer room, study areas, meeting spaces suitable for hosting performances and events, and a high-tech creativity lab, the facility has become a manifestation of the school’s commitment to equipping today’s students to be able to meet the demands of tomorrow’s world.