Nicholson Sheffield Architects Inc.

358 Talbot Street

London, Ontario

N6A 2R6

T. 519.673.1190

Jim Sheffield

Gerald Gallacher

Walter Derhak

John Nicholson

St. André Bessette Catholic Secondary School

London, Ontario

Designed for the London District Catholic School Board, this new school is the first significant construction in a newly developed residential area in northwest London. The main entrance is on a curving section of Tokala Trail. A drop-off area pulls the vehicular interface with the community safely off the street. The building’s chapel anchors the front façade and makes clear that faith is a central element in school life.


school exterior


The school also “fronts” a major roadway on its south side, where the building is seen from behind its outdoor athletic field. The most dominant feature of the south elevation is a courtyard, centrally located to allow natural light into the heart of the school and to serve as an outdoor gathering space. This space glows during evening events. A bus drop-off is also located near this space.



A ‘Learning Commons’ has been designed at the core of the building’s interior. This area functions as a central shared-atrium, where students may study and socialize. The space is surrounded by central corridors, and is adjacent to the school’s library.

This large building has been broken into a number of variously sized masses, responding to the programing within. The parking is laid-out in several areas surrounding the school, providing green space more evenly and to provide more direct access to the school.

In 2013, the project was awarded a Don Smith Commercial Building Award for Excellence in the “Institutional Community” Category by the London / St. Thomas Association of Realtors. The school was also recognized with the provincial Ontario Masonry Design Award for Architectural Design.