Toronto-Area High School Installs Silva Cells Under Shade Trees in Courtyard

David and Mary Thomson Collegiate Institute planted 8 new trees in their courtyard, each one supported by the DeepRoot Silva Cells


Originally opened in the fall of 1959, David and Mary Thomson Collegiate Institute (DMT) was established to serve the increasingly developed and populated Scarborough district of Toronto. For most of the subsequent four decades, enrollment increased alongside concurrent campus additions; however, as the size of the student body shrunk in the early 2000s, an agreement was reached to build a new school: a merger with the Bendale Business and Technical Institute to form a “superschool” — retaining its DMT name — near the intersection of Midland and Lawrence Avenues. As part of the development, the outdoor paved plaza of the school (which opened in 2019) included eight new shade trees planted in the Silva Cell system, which provides a quality soil environment for healthy expansion.

Installation Summary

Number of Silva Cells: 40 (3x)

Total Soil Volume: 62.3 m3

Number of Trees: 8

Type of Project: Plaza

Project Designer: JGA Inc.

Project Contractor: Everstrong Construction

Installation Date of Silva Cells: 2019

The Project

The postwar years in Toronto saw a boom in population which in turn gave rise to a thriving suburban metro — the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) — including development to the northeast in what became known as Scarborough. To serve the growing community needs of the district, the David and Mary Thomson Collegiate Institute (DMT) was opened in 1959, named after the first European settlers to immigrate to the area (in the late 1700s).

The school saw a steady rise in enrollment throughout the years, building campus additions to serve the growing student body along the way. After a period of stagnation in the mid-2000s, however, it was decided that a new “superschool” would be built that merged DMT with the Bendale Business and Technical Institute (BBTI). An adjacent plot of land to the original BBTI was identified and design plans were begun by ZAS Architects and Taylor Smyth.

The 178,000 square-foot, four-story facility was erected in a dense “superblock” formation which maximizes vertical space. Sustainability was a top priority for project planners: the new DMT was designed to “Green School” best practices including energy efficiency, high insulation, abundant natural light, recycled material utilization, and ongoing environmental monitoring.

As part of the new DMT project, JGA Inc. was tasked with building the outdoor area with the same sustainability principles in mind. With its vast experience in urban design and sports facilities., JGA Inc. was the perfect choice to undertake this landscaping initiative, which included eight new courtyard trees planted in the DeepRoot Silva Cell system.

DeepRoot Silva Cell Success

The new DMT school opened in the fall of 2019. In addition to its beautifully revamped interior, the exterior was equally impressive with a new football field, basketball court, parking lot, and drop-off zone. Incorporating greenery was also an important element of the building façade, as a number of trees were planted in a park-like lawn on the campus’s south side.

Also on the south side, between the lawn and the basketball court, is a newly installed paved courtyard with bench seating positioned underneath eight trees. Project planners wanted this flex space to have available shade — and to ensure the trees would reach healthy maturity, they were planted in Silva Cells, which support the hardscape above while providing a robust, uncompacted soil environment beneath.

The David and Mary Thomson Collegiate Institute is yet another example of Silva Cells thriving in educational settings, where a shady outdoor gathering place is paramount for students.

Additional Resources

For other DeepRoot projects in the Greater Toronto Area, check out our case studies here, here, and here.


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