Branksome Hall
Innovation Centre & Studio Theatre

  • Provide a space that will fit every innovator
  • Provide a space that will take students out of their comfort zones
  • Promote diversity of thought, skills, and interest
  • Build a sense of community among the students, as well as with faculty,
    staff and members of our broader local communities
  • Use the space as a catalyst for shaping a better world

About the Project

Branksome Hall is planning to build a new Innovation Centre and Studio Theatre on the east campus that will enhance our current facilities to meet the demands of our innovation curriculum.

The Innovation Centre and Studio Theatre will be a world-class education facility allowing our students from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12, teachers and staff to come together under one roof with scholars, industry leaders, artists and entrepreneurs.

This facility will embrace our newly articulated values of sense of community, inclusiveness, creativity and making a difference, while amplifying our core mission to challenge and inspire girls to love learning and shape a better world.

The project is about enhancing Branksome Hall’s programming and enriching our learning environments. The Innovation Centre and Studio Theatre, with its state-of-the-art facilities, will encourage our students to explore and realize ideas which have a positive societal impact and will allow us to build on our existing partnerships and seek out new ones.

Building Timeline

    • Building Timeline

FAQ

List of 18 items.

  • Can you tell us more about the project?

    We are in the process of planning a new Innovation Centre and Studio Theatre (iCAST) on the east campus which will enhance our current facilities to meet the demands of our innovation curriculum and arts programs. iCAST will be a world-class educational facility allowing our students from JK to Grade 12, teachers and staff to come together under one roof. This new state-of-the-art learning environment at Branksome Hall will replace the existing Allison Roach Theatre for Performing Arts, Drama Studio and original pool.

    The new facility will serve as a catalyst for our entire community—providing a space that will fit any type of innovator, helping students learn to take risks, build confidence and become more adaptable—skills essential in our rapidly changing world. The space will promote greater diversity of thought, skills and interests, and will enhance a sense of community among students, faculty, staff and the broader community.

    Along with providing students with access to leading-edge tools and technologies, this new building will also integrate the arts to allow students to fully realize their creative and innovative projects on various platforms, providing space for exploration of multi-disciplinary initiatives.

    The facility will include a new studio theatre, which in addition to housing performances, rehearsals and classes, will also provide much-needed room to host inspiring speakers, panel discussions and community events.
  • When is this project going to start? How long will it take to complete?

    Construction of the Innovation Centre and Studio Theatre will begin in September 2022 and is expected to last 24 months. We are committed to staging the project with minimal disruption on school programs and with an eye to traffic management.
  • What is the square footage?

    The building will be 31,538 square feet, about half the size of the Athletic and Wellness Centre.
  • What’s inside?

    With reconfigurable spaces and tools, iCAST features fabrication and digital spaces such as machine, wood and robotics workshops where students can use computing and engineering tools to manufacture prototypes. Artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) labs will ensure students will have the edge when it comes to future technologies. A pitch space invites students and industry experts to present and share ideas. The black-box studio theatre, with moveable seats to create various environments, offers experimental and traditional performance in dance, film, music, as well as film-making and screenings. A 2,550 square-foot tension grid will enable professional-quality theatrical lighting plans.
  • Do any other schools have a similar facility?

    The iCAST will be a game-changer not only for Branksome Hall, but as the first-of-its-kind space for any JK-Grade 12 institution in Canada. Only three such facilities currently exist in the United States.
  • Who are the architects?

    The project is a partnership between New York-based ENNEAD and Toronto-based MJMA (architect of the AWC). ENNEAD has experience redefining learning spaces, from Kindergarten to graduate school, and establishing spaces that inspire student development, promote collaboration and strengthen connections within the classroom and to the broader community.
  • Why do we need iCAST now?

    The future belongs to innovators who can marry technology and “big data” to solve real-world problems. Emergent economic sectors didn’t exist 10 years ago, and many more have completely changed how we live and work. Organizations will require excellent problem-solvers. As Branksome teaches the “Innovation Mindset”—a learning process of creative ideating, testing, mistake making and reiterating⁠—we are evolving away from formal classrooms and traditional modes of knowledge sharing. Accelerating our curriculum, iCAST will offer leading-edge tools and technologies in an architecturally prescient, flexible space, integrating the arts to allow students to fully realize ambitious, creative and innovative projects. The facility will also accelerate our focus on performing arts, including a new studio theatre which doubles as a much-needed room to host inspiring speakers, panel discussions and community events.
  • What impact will iCAST have on the student experience?

    While our curriculum has evolved to incorporate the latest pedagogical approaches, our facilities are due for a “next gen” update to keep pace. This flexible, multi-purpose space allows us to build on existing partnerships and seek out new ones. iCAST is for everyone, from JK-Grade 12. iCAST will invite students, faculty and the broader community to work with innovation leaders in an innovation ecosystem of experts and mentors. iCAST’s design will encourage the cross-pollination of disciplines as students co-create prototypes in the fabrication spaces. iCAST will be a true incubator of people and ideas.
  • How will iCAST set students up for post-secondary success?

    While this space is unique within JK-12 schools, post-secondary institutions are building these types of spaces to ensure graduates are prepared to enter the workforce. When our students move on to post-secondary education, they will have an advantage having gained confidence and literacy in a prototype space other students will not have experienced before. As well, iCAST will cement Branksome’s place along the tech innovation corridor from Toronto-Waterloo, creating a unique feeder school of excellence in the downtown core. Toronto is now the third-largest tech hub in North America, boasting new and expanding involvement of tech giants such as Microsoft, IBM and Google. Branksome’s students will be at the centre of this, prepared to take their positions in the job market of tomorrow.
  • What new and enhanced activities will the new facility enable?

    The building is not classroom space, but rather an extension of it, enabling the innovation agenda and curriculum to flourish. Research shows that all great innovative organizations have spaces that inspire and challenge traditional thinking. Architects call such spaces “the third teacher.” With performing arts and technology colliding in the same space, this will be an ideal environment for students to develop a twenty-first-century toolkit, honing creativity and adaptability to embrace what has not yet been invented. With its moveable seats, the multi-media black-box theatre can host theatre productions, robotics competitions and more. Students can build confidence to pursue their passions—whether their dream is to be an artist or engineer.
  • Why is Branksome Hall committed to this project? How does it fit into the longer-term plan for the school?

    At Branksome Hall, we are always looking for ways to improve our facilities and ensure our students are prepared to excel in a world of change and uncertainty. Although our students and academic programs are ahead of the “innovation curve,” this project is intended to enhance Branksome Hall’s programming and enrich our learning environments.

    Our mission is to challenge and inspire girls to love learning and shape a better world. iCAST will help us to do this, making admissions to the school more competitive and further reinforcing Branksome’s reputation as a world-class educational institution. This project will spark innovation in our students and equip them with the tools to become more resilient, curious, agile and creative.

    The building will also provide improved accessibility and connectivity within existing buildings. The existing bridge over Mount Pleasant Road will connect into this new building, creating a seamless and safe indoor pathway between the east and west campuses.

    The facility will further set our school apart, creating an innovation hub which will bridge the gap in the current STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) environment and address gender inequity in these fields.
  • Why is iCAST an important place for girls and young women, specifically?

    Despite hard-fought advancements by countless female leaders, gender disparity in STEM is evident and ongoing, especially at the governance level. Women represent less than a third of those studying or working in STEM-related fields across Canada. Early engagement in STEM opportunities and programming is a key driver in helping young girls explore their interest in these fields and to consider them viable options for their future. iCAST will provide a safe and leading-edge environment for students to explore their interests, so that they can go on to shatter glass ceilings and break the barriers of exclusion, closing the gender gap in STEM-related industries and beyond.
  • What impact will it have for the wider community?

    iCAST’s studio theatre will be a magnet for the broader community, housing performances, rehearsals and classes, and hosting inspiring speakers, panel discussions and community events. The Athletics and Wellness Centre, which opened in 2015, is an example of how Branksome’s spaces serve the greater community. Much like the AWC, the iCAST will offer programming for the broader community to explore their interest in STEAM. The programming and partnerships will expand existing community-based partnerships and allow us to build new ones, with innovation and industry experts to bring authentic learning into the classroom.
  • Will construction impact existing heritage buildings? Will the new building fit in with the existing architecture/aesthetic of the Rosedale neighbourhood?

    Heritage preservation underpins our plans for this project. We recognize that our campus and the surrounding neighbourhood is composed of heritage homes and properties which need to be preserved. Our project considers the heritage requirements of the Branksome Hall property and ensures that we respect and elevate the heritage elements of our buildings, while also enhancing our spaces with contemporary design.
  • There is already significant construction in the area. How will you ensure impacts on neighbours are minimal?

    We will provide frequent and timely updates should we foresee disruptions in the area. A number of construction mitigation measures will be put in place to ensure we minimize the impact on our neighbours throughout this process. Details about these measures will be communicated in advance.
  • How will construction affect my child's experience at Branksome?

    We anticipate that there will be minimal disruption, but we plan to make the process as non-disruptive as possible. We have hired Eastern Construction who have significant experience building facilities for schools. All work on campus will follow City of Toronto bylaws with respect to start and end times, ensuring there are no disruptions outside of working hours. We will provide frequent and timely updates to our community if there are going to be construction disruptions in the area.

    Additionally, we don’t anticipate a daily impact on the student experience, athletics or any of our co-curricular programs.

    We are still in the construction planning process and are continuing to identify and evaluate different options and approaches to space accommodation. We will do everything we can to ensure there are minimal disruptions and will be able to share more information about this in the coming months. We have conducted a comprehensive analysis and investigation to pinpoint where our noise centres will be. Class scheduling will be informed accordingly, and won’t be a disruptor in their learning environment. The students will have an opportunity to perform on stage and with audiences, in a variety of alternative venues, and we will rent space to accommodate performing arts when necessary. The music practice rooms (with the exception of one) will not be impacted.
  • This is an exciting project, but how is this going to disrupt traffic flow for pick-up and drop-off of the Senior & Middle School students?

    Safety and security are top priorities. We will have three crossing guards serving our students: two at Sherborne and Elm Ave. and one at the intersection of Mount Pleasant and Elm, which is particularly important as the bridge over Mount Pleasant will be decommissioned during construction. Off-duty Toronto Police Service officers will be stationed periodically at the intersection of Elm Ave. and Mt. Pleasant Rd. to monitor traffic and enforce traffic bylaws. Eastern Construction will have their own traffic management staff to ensure that all incoming and outgoing construction vehicles will be managed responsibly and efficiently; that is one of the reasons we selected Eastern as our construction company. They have extensive experience building schools, most recently the University of Toronto School at Bloor and Spadina.

    We continue to work with the City of Toronto, school community and neighbours to address traffic congestion issues in the neighbourhood. Drop-off and pick-up will be staggered and there will be regular communication to parents in newsletters about driving safely and respectfully in and around our campus and neighbourhood. We are also exploring a plan during construction for drop-off and pick-up to be relocated to Sherbourne Street, as per the City’s recommendations.
  • How can I learn more, ask questions or provide feedback?

    It is a priority for us to work collaboratively with our community and neighbours. Your feedback and questions can help us do that. We value your input on what the future for Branksome Hall looks like. Please write to community@branksome.on.ca.

Feedback

As Branksome Hall looks to the future and continues to grow, it is a priority for us to work collaboratively with our community and neighbours.

We are committed to being responsible members of the community, and your feedback and questions can help us do that. You can reach us at community@branksome.on.ca.
Land Acknowledgement
We wish to acknowledge this land on which Branksome operates. For thousands of years, it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous peoples from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work and go to school on this land.
Branksome Hall
10 Elm Avenue
Toronto, ON | M4W 1N4
416.920.4610


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