PORTLAND, Ore. — If you've been anywhere near Providence Park or Goose Hollow in Southwest Portland, it's hard to miss the new, six-story tall Lincoln High School towering over the old building. It’s the only high rise in the Portland Public School District. Right now, it’s getting its finishing touches for the fall.
This week, KGW got a sneak peek inside the brand new building.
“I think the first thing you notice is how open this space is, if you look up at the ceilings, how just modern and industrial this feels. It makes you want to be here. It makes you want to study and learn more,” said Alexander Levine, a senior at Lincoln High School.
Levine, who was a part of the construction management class at Lincoln, had chances to see the building in various stages. But on Wednesday, he saw the building in its nearly complete state.
“The first thing that I noticed is how modern looking it is," Levine said. "I mean, we're coming from a building that's like 70 years old and we have water falling from our ceilings. The bathrooms stink and it's not a great learning environment. While it feels old and historic, this just brings in some new energy."
That energy translates to those who worked hard on the project, like Lincoln High School principal Peyton Chapman.
“I just have so much excitement and honestly pride. The whole project exceeds my expectations,” said Chapman.
PHOTOS: Inside the new Lincoln High School building
She said the old building is the smallest high school in the district but handles one of the largest student populations. Chapman said when she arrived at Lincoln in 2006, there wasn’t enough space then and it’s been the case for years.
“We had one class at one point called ‘Urban Exploration’ where they meet on the patio and walk around downtown and talk about the history of Portland because we just didn’t have enough classroom space,” said Chapman.
Additionally, the old high school made it difficult on families with students who played sports.
“We have had 6 a.m. boys basketball practices for ninth graders and closed our day at 10 at night with dance team practices,” Chapman said. She said the new school will have a "mega gym" with three full courts, adding that it's going to be "life changing.”
Chapman said the new building is at least 120,000 square feet larger than the old high school.
In addition to the gym space, there's a dedicated wrestling room. There are also all kinds of state-of-the-art classrooms and spaces as well as areas for students to hang out.
“I think one of the most unique pieces about this project has been student involvement,” said Chapman.
From the beginning, Chapman said there has been an emphasis on student input. Students were part of a design group that was consulted, they testified in front of the school board and also went door-to-door talking to voters prior to the bond vote. Levine was part of the student design group that contributed ideas.
“We gave a lot of input on say color schemes and the feel for when you're in the building. Even the wood paneling and the atmosphere that creates within the cafeteria while you're eating, this was all part of our conversations that we were having with building designers,” said Levine, referring to the repurposed wood that accents some of the walls on the ground floor.
Raja Moreno was also involved in the design process and appreciated being given the opportunity to help in the design process. Moreno is a 2019 Lincoln High graduate and current student at Yale University.
“It indicated a lot of respect for the student viewpoint,” said Moreno. “So I felt very heard and very respected through that whole process, which was really special, and again, sort of above and beyond I think what they really had to do.”
Moreno was one of a handful of students who fundraised to go to Finland to research and learn about school designs.
“Their schools are widely regarded as some of the best in the world,” Moreno said. “I still can't believe that happened.”
Chapman said other students also fundraised to go to China for the same reason. As he looked around, he saw some elements inspired by that trip that made it into Lincoln High School’s new design, such as the use of natural light.
Erik Gerding, senior project manager for the Office of School Modernization for Portland Public Schools, said the project is being completed in budget and on time. He pointed out some of the other features in the new building as well.
“We have security cameras all around the building and outside. We have a secure entrance at the front of the schools so we can lock the vestibule so when people are coming in after the bell rings, they have to go through the office."
The building is also energy efficient with solar panels on the roof, greenery to reduce heat and huge windows that allow in a lot of natural light.
“We have systems that will automatically dim the lighting based on the amount of daylight that comes into the building. So that's also big energy savings,” Gerding said.
Additionally, Gerding said the building is LEED Gold certified, meaning it's energy efficient and easier on the environment.
The old high school will be demolished to make way for a new track and field once the new high school building opens next fall. The track and field is expected to be done by fall of 2023.
Gerding said there are plans to cut pieces from the old gym floor with the logo and apply it to a wall at the entrance of the locker rooms.
“It's just kind of honoring the history of Lincoln. This community at Lincoln has been here for 70 years in this location, but in Portland for over 100 years. It's the oldest high school on the West Coast. So we’re going to tear down the old building, but we don't want its memory to disappear,” said Gerding.
Both students and district employees said they were grateful to voters for having approved the bond measure in 2017 that funded the $242 million Lincoln High School project. The bond also covered improvements at Kellogg Middle school, McDaniel High School and Benson High School and funded a number of other projects.