The Opportunity Center is aptly named; it helps facilitate residents’ personal growth by providing them access to knowledge and opportunities that help them succeed in their immediate community and beyond. A modern home economics teaching kitchen hosts farm-to-table cooking classes to teach residents how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, computer stations allow them to pursue work opportunities, and classrooms hold workshops where residents learn important life skills that can be passed from generation to generation, inspiring self-sufficiency. A community room, where residents often gather for community meals, is the heart of the site.
The design team created a range of linked outdoor spaces to help foster community. The building’s long, sloping green roof opens to the south, creating a dramatic covered porch for large gatherings. This space also shelters parents watching their children in the adjacent playground and provides an opportunity for residents and neighbors to connect while working in the community garden.
We gave careful thought to teens and how they experience the outdoor space, including the need to socialize, move, and view the outside world. The entry plaza below the covered porch is located at the edge of the development, but it is easily monitored by management offices. Stair seats flank the plaza, providing casual sitting places.The design team achieved full site accessibility without an elevator by using a long, sloping ramp that fully integrates into the architecture.
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