Lincoln High School

Portland, OR

Lincoln High School

Portland, OR

Bora's design puts the deep history of Lincoln High School and the city as the foundation for the next 100-plus years of student Cardinals to embrace and learn from, as they develop the skills needed to jump all-in and lead on causes that call to them.

Jason Trombley, Chair, Design Advisory Committee

At six stories high, Lincoln High School is the first mid-rise high school in the state of Oregon. Situated on a constrained urban site in downtown Portland, this mid-rise design is the perfect build.

The high school is envisioned as a modern learning environment bringing together a varied program into a cohesive and compact singular form. The new build presents a creative model of restraint and economy of space while also maximizing design.

Prominent exterior glass-wrapped stairs emphasize the school’s vertical nature. This projects a sense of movement and energy outward from the school. Flexible learning spaces on every floor cultivate social hubs and intersections for collaboration. Floor-to-ceiling windows and east/west views strengthen students’ connections to the active urban edge and also to the mountains and hills beyond. The building design features a shared commons space and new media center that doubles the size of the original school, providing generous gathering venues for the greater community. Throughout the facility, experiential graphic design creates a visual language celebrating the power of community and place paired with global thinking.

With the groundbreaking for the new build, Lincoln High School released a land acknowledgment statement recognizing the indigenous land on which the new school is built. It also acknowledges the specific Indigenous Tribes that once lived on the land.


Both simple best practices and innovative design strategies were leveraged to achieve a high level of energy performance on a tight budget; the project is currently tracking at an EUI of 32. The compact urban form, targeted glazing percentages, and mineral wool rigid insulation create an effective thermal enclosure that keeps students comfortable while reducing mechanical load. Efficient mechanical strategies include hydronic radiant heating, with a portion of the necessary energy recovered from the servers and computer lab. The project’s roof sports both extensive plantings and a 278kW solar PV array.


Active design was a key consideration for this six-story school building. Early analysis showed that moving all the students between classes mechanically would require 14 elevators. The ultimate design resulted in just three elevators, with the majority of vertical transportation accomplished with wide, welcoming stairways surrounded by casual gathering spaces. By celebrating exercise, the building will use less energy and result in a healthier student body.


The project sits along a creek that once housed the terraced gardens of a Chinese immigrant community. The landscape design took inspiration from this cultural history and created a terraced garden that pays homage to the site’s past. Other equitable design initiatives include non-gendered bathrooms and an intentional focus on working with COBID-certified businesses that resulted in a diverse design and construction team.


289,000 square feet




Hoffman / Pacificmark LLC
Mayer Reed