Local studio Hacker Architects has renovated and expanded a 60-year-old athletic facility at Oregon Episcopal School, with the goal of making it an “inclusive, equitable and future-proof college center.”

The project — officially called the Oregon Episcopal School Athletic Center — is located on the campus of a coed private school in southwest Portland.

Hacker Architects renovated and expanded the Oregon Episcopal School Athletic Center

The school serves 800 students, from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. The school was first founded in 1869, and its name is rooted in Oregon’s “natural beauty, diversity of people and history,” Hacker Architects said.

The Sports Center houses the Physical Education and Sports departments, as well as being a multi-purpose space for the entire school community.

The school provides sports facilities for 800 students

Dating back to 1966, the original 22,000-square-foot (2,044 m2) facility was designed by architects Lewis Crutcher and was in need of modernization and expansion. The clients wanted to create an “inclusive, equitable and future-proof university centre”.

“The directive from OES was to create a safe and supportive experience for all students, regardless of their interests or skills in sport,” the architecture studio said.

Hacker Architect’s renovation aims to make the building more inclusive

The project entailed renovations to the original facility and the addition of a 20,000-square-foot (1,858 m2) annex. The enlarged building, rectangular in shape, cascades down a gentle slope and anchors the northern part of the campus.

The design team incorporated flexible spaces and a connection to the outdoors.

The building was expanded by 200,000 square feet

“The design of the new sports center reflects the OES community’s desire for open spaces that encourage gathering and support interaction at different levels and scales – and a design that embraces nature and the outdoors as an educational tool,” the team said.

The facades of the original building were a combination of painted plaster, brick tiles, and colored cedar. The exterior of the additions is sheathed with fiber cement panels and plywood capped with stained cedar beams. The trellises are entwined with evergreen climbing vines.

“The exterior envelope shares a common language with the recently completed primary school, where the vertical timber slats and texture reference the nearby campus woods,” the team said.

Interior finishes include polished concrete floors and a stair screen made of translucent vertical grain cedar. The exposed, glued-coated columns and beams are made of Douglas fir.

It contains two gymnasiums as well as offices and collaboration spaces

For the programmatic elements, the architecture studio collaborated closely with OES students and faculty to understand the use of the building, particularly with regard to schedules and routines.

The building contains two full-size gymnasiums, meeting and collaboration spaces, and offices. On the south side of the building, the atrium overlooks the forest and serves as a “mixed-use commons,” where users can study or watch sports.

Part of the design strategy was to provide a connection to the outside landscape

Standard locker rooms have been replaced with “squad rooms” that accommodate mixed-gender teams, along with instances where the coach’s gender differs from the student-athletes’ gender.

“The design team and OES envisioned a space that replaces locker rooms with flexible, all-purpose team rooms, allowing student-athletes and their coaches a mix of private and community spaces,” the architects said.

Passive cooling strategies have been implemented in the design

Sustainability was an important concern for the project. The facility features a highly efficient building envelope, passive cooling strategies and limited mechanical cooling.

According to the team, the building aligns with the goals of the 2030 Architecture Challenge and meets the criteria of the Path to Net Zero program overseen by the Oregon Energy Fund.

The building is part of the campus of a co-ed private school

Furthermore, the building is designed to respond to seismic events, as Portland is located within an earthquake zone.

“Designed for resilience, the OES Sports Center meets more stringent seismic standards to provide shelter and support to OES and surrounding communities after a seismic event,” the team said.

Other Oregon projects by Hacker Architects include wood-clad townhomes in Bend that were designed to appeal to outdoor enthusiasts and a high-desert residence featuring split wood walls.

Photography by Lara Swimmer.

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