School students envisage Avon Crest’s future

On Friday, January 13 Robert Lemon and Howard Shubert from the group Save Avon Crest met with Grade 9 Geography students at Stratford District Secondary School.  With their teacher, Jennifer Dowson, the students have been working this semester on the topic of Liveable Communities. Check out the school article here.

What should be done with Avon Crest? How do they envisage the future of the site? Robert Lemon, a retired heritage architect, introduced the concept of embedded carbon (the greenhouse gas emissions arising from the manufacturing, transportation, installation, maintenance, and disposal of building materials). Lemon compared the CO2 in a 100-year old brick to the embedded calories in a butter tart. Howard Shubert, an architectural historian, introduced a video about Avon Crest ( by referring to the embedded history in that same brick.

Then the students were divided into three groups, one for each of Stratford’s zoning categories – institutional (Blue), commercial (Red), residential (Yellow). Each group of students presented their proposed schemes by manipulating the movable pieces of Lemon’s scale-model of the site (made of recycled materials – the gardener’s cottage was a piece of soap, the tunnel connecting Avon Crest to Stratford General Hospital across John Street was a paper towel roll).

The students’ propositions all retained the existing buildings and also included the following mix of possibilities: nursing/retirement home, homeless shelter, two-story garage with solar panels, apartment buildings, assisted care group home, hotel, Ronald Macdonald House, gas station, historical museum, heated greenhouse, dance studio and tavern. Everyone left with a butter tart.

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