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Broadview school expansion plan would integrate modernized facilities into heritage properties

Riverdale’s Montcrest School wants to expand its facility with a modern extension that will provide an interesting contrast with two of the heritage homes the school occupies on Broadview Avenue.

Montcrest’s 300 students—from junior kindergarten to grade eight—get their education in relatively cramped quarters. The 50-year-old independent school moved to Broadview from the Annex in the 1970s, starting in one leased house on Broadview that was eventually given to the school. As it expanded, the school purchased other homes in the neighbourhood and a couple of decades ago built a more traditional three-stsorey school building in the large adjoining lots backing onto the Don Valley. The leadership team had been looking for other neighbourhood properties to purchase but finally realized they might have to come up with a more creative solution on their existing footprint.

“We want to give our kids, especially in the older grades, the opportunity to have spaces to facilitate the types of learning they’re doing,” says Michael Dilworth, director of advancement. “It will give us more breathing room. Also, there’s the ancillary benefit where we can incorporate an improved art space and music space, which are both in the basement at the moment.” Enrollment might increase by a few dozen, but not much more than that.

The proposal, designed by MontgomerySisam Architects, retains the residential-style properties at 650, 658 and 660 Broadview Avenue but introduces new building forms behind and between 650 and 658 Broadview.

“We have been neighbours in Riverdale for a long time so we were happy to be able to maintain the integrity of the houses along Broadview. I think it will feel very much like the streetscape we have now, enhanced by a beautiful facility. I don’t know if I’d call the glass modern, but it integrates the old with the new," says Dilworth. "When someone is sitting in the art facility, they’ll see the exterior walls of those historic homes.”

The school will be embarking on a fund-raising campaign to pay for the project.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Michael Dilworth
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