The new Portland Opportunity Center @42nd Avenue for Portland Community College will be an anchor for the community in Northeast Portland’s racially diverse Cully neighborhood. Replacing PCC’s existing facility, the expanded Center will create opportunities for low-income families and residents, transforming lives through education and connections to family-wage jobs. Guided by trauma-informed design and Design Justice principles, Bora’s design seeks to cultivate a culture of collective care by creating restorative and humanizing spaces that connect to nature and celebrate cultural diversity. The College’s first project to pioneer a mass timber structure, the Center will feature classrooms, a career center, gathering space, and surrounding greenspace.
Our approach to stakeholder and community engagement was guided by a Critical Race Spatial Lens and developed in partnership with Colloqate Design, a nationally recognized leader in design justice advocacy and organizing. This resulted in a vision for the Opportunity Center that more authentically reflects the values and needs of its community.
Reflecting the stewardship of its public investment, the Opportunity Center, featuring a high-performance enclosure, is designed to reduce embodied carbon impacts and maximize the well-being of everyone who uses the space. The innate warmth of the cross-laminated timber is featured in the “carve away” form of the building and carries into the calming interior, where custom murals in the community room and lobby will elevate the stories of the people and the neighborhood. Abundant indoor-outdoor connections will activate the adjacent courtyard and street year-round.
An FSC-certified mass timber structural system will sequester carbon and offset the use of more carbon-intensive systems. A robust building envelope and hydronic mechanical system put us on target to meet the Architecture 2030 operational energy use reduction goals.
The building was designed using Trauma-Informed Design principles to make visitors and staff feel safe, grounded, and at ease.
Our outreach and design processes focused on addressing past inequities and celebrating the diversity of the building’s users and community. One outreach outcome is that outdoor furniture will be designed for use by the community as well as the building users, addressing a local lack of public outdoor gathering spaces.