St. Martha Catholic Elementary Junior High School

Project Details

St. Martha School is a K-9, 20-classroom school located in the Timberlea Subdivision of Fort McMurray, and was the first new school ACI designed for the Fort McMurray Catholic School board.

The budget for construction was very restrictive and presented numerous challenges to the design team to meet program objectives while remaining within budget. Functional programming, user consultation and input was completed by ACI and involved lengthy collaborative day sessions on the design approach, laying out of functional program requirements from Al- berta Education and comparing them to the user groups requirements. Room templates were created for each individual room to ensure all mechanical, electrical and architectural requirements were provided. This method allowed the users to review and address each area individually allowing them to focus in on the smaller details that needed to be incorporated in order to set forth a practical and functional school. The design of St. Martha School has become the model for all new Catholic schools in Fort McMurray to follow.

The strategy to attain a cost effective building involves using repetitive structural elements, simplicity in planning, and a limited range of materials. The higher cost elements of the building are focused on common and public areas of the school, while classrooms are standardized and rely on educational activities and student graphics for decoration. The school incorporates low maintenance materials and an enclosed 2nd level mezzanine housing all major mechanical and electrical equipment. This removed the need for roof top units, while improving access for maintenance, and does not occupy premium floor area.

Spaces have been designed for flexibility of use so that functions and activities can be changed without major modifications. Recommended classroom sizes were incorporated into the building design and utilization of removable demising walls be- tween classrooms allowed for future configuration modifications. Expandability was built-in to the structure to permit the addition of up to 8 portable classrooms and an extension to the gymnasium.

The design and construction of the school follows LEED® principles wherever possible.


The floor plan was configured to allow easy supervision of all areas from a central point at the hub of the school. The main entrance, both corridors and the core facilities are all visible and accessible from this area.