The Oblates of Mary Immaculate founded St. Augustine School over one hundred years ago, at which time the school shared quarters with St. Augustine Church in a domed, three-storey, brick building located in the Kitsilanoneighbourhood of Vancouver. In 1951, the original school was demolished and replaced with what was to be a temporary, single-storey, wood-frame building. Sixty-four years later, a new three-storey, 300 student, 4,200 square metre, red brick-clad school and child care facility that features fifteen classrooms, a learning commons, multipurpose spaces and allowance for a new gymnasium occupies the compact site.
The new school is clad with brick masonry and provides a symbolic link to the existing St. Augustine Church + Parish, located one block to the east, and pays homage to the original church and school building. The masonry finish, inspired by the work of Alvaar Aalto and a children’s flip book, is a playful collage comprised of three shades of red brick arranged in six varying patterns. The red brick cladding rises directly out of the finished grade. Window openings are detailed as deep, incised cuts that feature traditional brick sills and dramatic brick-faced sloping sills. Three recessed buff-brick cruciform patterns modestly mark the building as a Catholic institution in the surrounding multi-family neighbourhood. Freestanding brick walls delineate and anchor the school to the site.
The main entrance and child care feature folding steel canopies that are supported on slender cruciform columns. The folded planes reference the form of a nun’s habit; the top clad in dark standing seam metal and the underside finished with dazzling white stucco.
Interior finishes include golden-hued maple paneling and light blue flooring inspired from a painting of Mary crushing a serpent. Two glazed, south facing towers feature vivid green stairs snaking to the outside and upon which the children symbolically stomp the serpent as they rush out to play.
Blue coloured glazing symbolizes Mary and recalls the stained glass at St. Augustine Church and identifies three key components: the main entrance to the school, a breezeway that acts as a gateway to the school grounds and a tall towering window located at the corner of the site that symbolically links St. Augustine School to the neighbouring St. Augustine Church + Parish.