Lincoln High School
Experiential Graphics

Portland, OR

Lincoln High School
Experiential Graphics

Portland, OR

The Bora team treated every space as an educational opportunity.

Peyton Chapman, Principal of Lincoln High School

Lincoln High School is a newly built, six-story International Baccalaureate high school that focuses on developing inspired, global thinkers—serving its mission as a neighborhood high school with an international emphasis.

The design process included multiple review sessions with a student advisory group for feedback on initial design concepts and the development of graphics. Through this engagement with students, we were able to hone in on a visual language that expressed unique points of view while feeling relevant to the diverse student communities. Our design solution created a visual language that celebrates the power of community and place paired with global thinking through the use of varying scale, maps, and repeated graphic cues throughout the building.

Main common areas are identified through the use of large typography in nine different languages spoken by the student body. Consistently listing the translated languages in alphabetical order—from Arabic to Vietnamese—supports both familiarity and equity. At the gym and student store, an oversized Cardinal mascot is applied on the glass alongside the multiple languages, amplifying school spirit with the bold use of scale and color.

In the stairwells, each level is identified by large floor numbers in Cardinal red. The typography is formed from lines indicating the direction of the doorways, a subtle nod to pathways and mapping. Adjacent to the stairwells on levels two through six, flex spaces are defined by large glass panes featuring a series of map graphics that showcase the school’s location at varying scales. Rather than taking a common approach to displaying regional maps, each level’s map showcases a story unique to Lincoln High School’s history and population:

  • At level two, the city map is at street level, showing the various locations of the high school over its long history.
  • At level three, the map of Oregon is created solely from the waterways that define its borders; an accompanying plaque articulates the challenges and interconnected dynamics of water rights in the West.
  • Level four displays the migration patterns of Pacific Northwest salmon, a treasured natural resource that has shaped important history in our region and cues the health of our ecology.
  • At level five, we acknowledge that the land upon which our nation sits was held by others before us. This map portrays the multitude of overlapping Indigenous languages spoken in the United States.
  • Level six continues the display of diversity at a global scale, portraying the origin of today’s 7,000+ living languages.

Each map is accompanied by a plaque describing its content and source, encouraging students to think deeply about their place in the world from local, regional, and global perspectives.

By designing wayfinding elements that are both functional and educational, Bora infused the new building with Lincoln’s academic and cultural personality in a creative, non-institutional way.