For years, Thorncliffe Park Elementary School endured overcrowding challenges. To accommodate its diverse, growing student population, the Toronto District School Board contracted with Maple Reinders to expand and renovate the existing school. Each classroom of the two-storey school has views of nine inner courtyards; many classrooms have reading pits which lead to the courtyards. A catwalk on the second floor runs from senior classrooms to a computer loft in the library, over a long, green and bright courtyard. Outside areas feature extensive landscaping with room for children to plant their own gardens and a dense “inner forest”, with the help of volunteers from a local Horticultural Society. Stucco and cedar combine with earth-coloured bricks to give the school a residential feel and scale. Other highlights of the innovative facility include: a large “muscle area” and exercise/play courtyard; a triple gymnasium; a technologically advanced library with indoor/outdoor theatre; a landscaped outdoor sports/recreation area; and a green roof, providing several quantifiable environmental benefits. With the new facility addition, Thorncliffe Park is one of the largest elementary schools in North America, with a total area of 135,000 sf and an enrollment of 1,500 students.