The Children’s Center is located at the top of a hill, visible from Capitol Highway. Home Forward, the project owner, purchased this land to present a public face to the community and better integrate the new development into the existing neighborhood. The school enrolls both resident and neighborhood children.
The building’s long, sloping green roof opens up to the public at the top of the hill with a dramatic covered porch. Other components of the development, including resident housing and an Opportunity Center, are located at the bottom of the hill. The design team achieved full site accessibility for this 30-foot grade drop without the use of elevators by designing a long architectural ramp that mimics the slope of the green roof.
Classroom bays and openings dance down the hillside, creating a lively presence along the street and inside the circulation spine, with the spine culminating in a covered outdoor play area with a kid-sized climbing wall and lacy art screen. The art screen protects the play area like a wall, casting playful shadows to spark the children’s imagination. Classrooms and administrative offices enclose the courtyard playground.
A family workshop, where residents can attend parenting classes and work on group projects, such as building boats, is located below the outdoor play area. Terraced outdoor spaces connect the Children’s Center with the housing and Opportunity Center components of this development, facilitating human interaction and a strong sense of community.
Client: Home Forward
Award: American Institute of Architects Portland, Mayor’s Award for Design Excellence
"It is inviting to the people that live there and the people that will visit. More importantly, they created a neighborhood there. This, to me, is one of the best examples of how you can create community in new projects."
- Portland Mayor Charlie Hales
Photos: Thomas Harris
Watercolor Rendering: Richard Hoyen