Portland State University College of the Arts

Portland, OR

Portland State University College of the Arts

Portland, OR

Lincoln Hall is an historic three-story former public high school in downtown Portland, now home to the University’s College of the Arts. We led a complete renovation and expansion process, transforming it into a campus landmark and a 21st century academic and performance environment.

When Bora began the project, the building was in such bad shape it was being considered for demolition. Century-old building systems were failing and the building was seismically vulnerable. Unable to meet the demands of current music and theater pedagogies, Lincoln Hall had poor acoustic environments, limited sound isolation, small inflexible teaching spaces, and outdated performance systems. A limited budget seemed to constrain options.

We comprehensively evaluated existing conditions and opportunities to reorder the space program. Using the logic of the original design we recaptured spaces that had been lost with time. Inserting contemporary building systems allowed us to convert former mechanical rooms into dramatic teaching spaces.

Original light wells were recovered and converted to atriums that fill the interior with daylight and connect the spaces within. We transformed an old boiler room into a black box theater and added dramatic new rehearsal studios behind the stage, capturing views of the city while broadcasting the vitality of the school outward. A new entrance transformed the back of the building into a highly visible public entry.

As the first building to establish Portland State University in 1953, Lincoln Hall is the now first LEED platinum building on the PSU campus, redefining a historic landmark as an iconic example for the next century of education.


140,000 sf renovation


First Place, 2030 Challenge Design Awards, sponsored by Portland AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE)

LEED Platinum certified


The Shalleck Collaborative
Sparling, Inc.

Interface Engineering

Candela (Stantec)


Peter Meijer Architect

Code Unlimited

Howard S. Wright