W. Ross Macdonald School for the Blind
Government of Ontario
This new, "special needs" facility, includes an elementary school, a student residence, and a healthcare centre. It is linked by enclosed walkways to other buildings on the school campus. W. Ross Macdonald School provides both elementary and secondary education to students with a variety of challenges -- blindness (or partial blindness) being common to all. It is the largest facility of its kind in Canada.
The design philosophy focuses on navigation. Corridors are oversized (at 10 feet wide) as are all doors (42") which facilitates sight-diminished navigation. Lighting (both natural and artificial) is controlled to produce minimal glare and geared toward flexibility of lighting conditions. Trail rails, attached to the walls, guide the students through the various spaces, while disparate and tactile floor materials provide audible clues aiding students in the navigation of their mental map.
Finish materials include clear maple hardwood floors, gold cleft slate, porcelain tile, and polished concrete. The millwork consists of rich and contrasting cherry veneers. The exterior form of the building features weathered steel, coloured glass, zinc cladding, iron spot brick, as well as poured and precast concrete.