For anyone following the Urban Academy journey, they would probably agree that the defining term for the 20 year old school is ‘growth’. Starting as a JK to Grade 1 school in 2001, they have been growing the depth and breadth of the program, growing the JK to Grade 12 student and parent body and growing their facilities over these last two decades.
In the last 7 years, UA has gone from one heritage campus, to two, and finally to their own purpose built facility that they moved into in March of 2019. The building is currently four floors housing 320 students from JK to Grade 12. It took 3 years to build and includes a full size gym, multi purpose spaces, community kitchen, theatre, science lab, early learning spaces, resource rooms, makerspace, learning commons and many outside play spaces for students. To many they would tour the building and think ‘what a great facility’.
However, as the school was being built, the rapid growth in the student population, and interest from the surrounding communities indicated that UA’s leadership needed to think bigger. As the plans were being finalized, and the foundation was being dug, the writing was on the wall that four floors of urban school was not going to be enough. In order to support the 500 students UA will have at full build out, as well as the specialized spaces they wish to offer their students, plans had to change and the dream expanded.
So back to the drawing board they went – revising plans, expanding the size of the trusses, changing out the type of elevator for a larger one, enlarging the support headers, all to prepare for what they knew was coming, an additional fifth floor of learning spaces as well as an additional roof top learning deck.
In all reality, the work was prepared for but not planned for a number of years. However, once again, rapid growth and a never ending need for space moved the start date up to January of 2021. So with a final (so far unchanging) plan the concluding stage of work at Urban Academy has begun. The familiar sounds of dismantling and building, followed gradually by new structures taking shape will allow for the fourth floor to be opened in September 2021 while the fifth floor reaches completion inside, ready to open to students in September 2022.
A complete facility will mean that the UA Senior School (Grades 9-12) will occupy the fourth and fifth floors which include a student kitchen, classrooms, learning lounges, science lab and a sound treated music room. They will also continue to use some of the other shared rooms throughout the facility.
Urban Academy has dreamt big from day one, and with much hard work, a little risk and strong leadership it is at the final stage of the full facility build out. While the space will be nice for UA staff and students, it is the specialized learning spaces that everyone is most excited about and what that can mean for student learning. Keep tabs on UA’s growth, in the years since they have been an ISABC member, we know that for them, anything is possible!