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Centre of the Storm

Home of the CSS Storm, this flexible LEED Gold high school connects the community and natural environment.

Chilliwack, British Columbia

Social Space

By designing a variety of informal social spaces in conjunction with the formal teaching areas, the teachers and students can choose the environment that best suits their tasks. Social spaces are located both inside and outside the building, and range from soft seating in a quiet spot at the end of the hall to a large, two-storey multi-purpose space that overlooks the sports fields.

Light and Wood

The classrooms and the social spaces are filled with natural light, creating an ideal learning environment. Wood is used through the school to soften and warm the facility. The library, gyms, and the main central spine all use wood to lend special character to each space.


Site runoff from building rooftops, parking lots, bus drop-off, access roads, artificial turf field, tennis and basketball courts, is collected and directed to an underground detention system. In storms, water collects in the gravel within the chambers where it infiltrates surrounding soils until reaching capacity. In heavier rainfalls, the water will collect and rise up to an overflow invert that discharges to the storm drainage system. Runoff is directed to bioswales through cuts in the parking lot curbs. The swales allow storm water to be stored temporarily in a shallow depression before it eventually moves to a perforated storm under-drain connected to a downstream lawn basin. The bio swales provide infiltration to reduce storm water quantity, and improve storm water quality from small frequent storm events.

Heating and Ventilation Systems

By separating the air system from the ventilation system, each system can be addressed separately and more efficiently. Heating and cooling of the space can be moved throughout the building with a method more efficient than air. CSS uses water piped to radiant heating and cooling panels, and in some cases radiant slabs. The ventilation air can then be delivered at a lower temperature that in turn requires less heating energy.

Radiant Floors and Panels

Radiant panels are used throughout the school in areas that have a traditional T-Bar ceiling. The panels slot into the normal ceiling grid and are coordinated to provide heating, cooling or both, depending on their location within the building. Panels at the building perimeter can provide both heating in the winter and cooling in the summer to offset loses through the building envelope. Panels in the middle of the building work in cooling mode only to work on the heat load generated by the students in the spaces. In areas that do not have a traditional ceiling, such as the entries, the library, and the multipurpose space, the radiant system is addressed in the slabs. The large spaces are controlled by the radiant thermal slab that responds to the changing loads through the year.

Project facts

Builder: Graham Construction
Client: School District No. 33 (Chilliwack)
Completed: September 2013
Collaborators: Hunterlaird, Athletica, PFS, Brown Strachan, DGA, Levelton, Bunt, Structurecraft, Hunterlaird, Focus, Athletica, PFS, Brown
Cost: $45 Million
LEED: Gold Certified
Size: 16,655 sq. m. / 179 273 sq. ft. / 7.7 ha

Achievements & Awards

Vancouver Regional Construction Association – Silver Winner