Schools at the Heart of Communities: Rosa Parks Elementary, Portland

Designed a community campus

Opening to students in September, Rosa Parks Elementary School lies within the New Columbia housing project, a mixed-use development that replaces the old Columbia Villa housing project in North Portland.

Rosa Parks Elementary shares a campus and a concept with partners North Portland Boys & Girls Club, Portland Parks & Recreation, and the University Park Community Center. The $15 million school campus received funding from several sources, including the Housing Authority of Portland, the City of Portland, the Boys & Girls Club, Portland Public Schools, and federal new-market tax credits.

The school district saved around $6 million in building costs by sharing costs with its partners, according to Doug Capps, a former Portland School Board member who serves as the district’s project manager for Rosa Parks. The school district’s share of the building costs was $8.9 million.

A family resource room at the school was designed as a community meeting place, offering computer access as well as information about social services and other community needs.

Campus partners will share the school facilities as well as a new gym and an event room at the community center.

“Rosa Parks Elementary is an excellent example of a school building on a smaller site, centrally located within a neighborhood,” says architect John Weekes, who worked on the project. The building features solar panels and natural light, and includes design elements that meet high performance standards for sustainability. Some of those elements will be used as tools to teach students about sustainability.

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