Fir Ridge High School

Portland, Oregon

Special Citation Design Award
National School Boards Association

Fir Ridge is an alternative high school designed for students who dropped out of the District's main high school. Our goal was to provide a learning environment where students want to be and develop school pride.

Design Solution

The 7.38 acre site contained many mature Douglas Fir trees and we were able to maintain all but a few. The 33,500 s.f. school is designed around a central Commons area that is the heart of the school and students gather here for meals and casual encounters. Administrative and teacher offices have visual control over this area. The classrooms, gymnasium and administrative offices are adjacent to the Commons and parallel to the City street grid that represents the outside world. The Commons and main entry are skewed to create a strong axial connection to the street and to provide a connection point to the outside world for the students. Clerestories introduce natural light into the Commons and Gymnasium. North facing classrooms have clerestories in addition to the regular windows. Sunscreens and roof overhangs protect south facing windows from direct sunlight.

Classrooms are designed for 15 students. Operable walls between the classrooms give flexibility so as many as three spaces can be opened for larger group instruction. A large relight above the operable walls between classrooms helps to unify the spaces.

Activity areas are differentiated by their form and material. The administration area has brick veneer and a flat roof, classrooms have cedar bevel siding and pitched metal roofs, the Commons has a raised roof with metal siding and the Gymnasium is ground face block with a pitched metal roof.

All building systems and materials were selected to address the goals of high-performance schools. The building is oriented on a North South /East West axis to allow for controlling heat gain while admitting natural light into building

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