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Lord Lansdowne exemplifies a particularly English strain of Modernism first popularized in the early 50’s. The Festival of Britain’s slightly fussy yet cheerfully exuberant buildings, with their bright colours, varied materials and animated forms, were fresh and optimistic and promised a brave new world ahead for a country finally emerging from years of war and austerity.
The school’s festive inspiration is most evident in the main classroom building. A nine-sided circular pavilion, its serrated roof of folded concrete plates is ringed by 18 tapered steel pylons radiating outward from a central core. Similar folded-plate roofs atop the rectangular gymnasium wing and the main entrance help to unify the three-part composition, as do the miniature pylons supporting the entrance canopy. Walls of black, brown and tan brick are enlivened by sharp white trim and spandrel panels of lemon yellow, marine blue and a rich orangey red. A final architectural whimsy is the freestanding exhaust stack, wrapped in multicoloured stripes like a giant candycane. The black Gabbro boulder guarding the Spadina corner was deposited on the site by a glacier some 12,000 years ago before being unearthed during excavation.