The district’s efforts to build a new Gresham High School passed a significant hurdle last month when the City of Gresham’s Design Commission approved plans for the new building on a 6-1 vote. This approval, passed after a meaningful dialogue with staff from the city and the district at a November meeting, allows the District to move forward with preparing for construction, slated to begin next year.
The Design Commission’s final approval with conditions concludes a lengthy community engagement process about the plans for the new school; feedback was received by Gresham’s neighbors, teachers, and school alumni in regards to their wishes for the new facility, with many expressing interest in the school’s art-deco facade. The Design Commission appreciated these efforts to preserve and restore salvageable elements of the facade, with anticipated relocation of statues and bas-relief features throughout the new building’s courtyard, Hall of Fame and other interior spaces.
Principal Mike Schaefer was quoted in the Gresham Outlook in support for the final plans and appreciative of the collaborative community effort. “I’m happy that we were able to incorporate elements of the original facade and the designers were able to retain the character of the building for those who’ve grown up in the community. Gresham High School serves as a community center and this project is a significant community investment that will serve generations to come.”
Design Commission Focuses on Livable Streets, Buildings for City of Gresham
Gresham’s Design Commission reviews and approves projects and works to promote good design “for the built environment of the city.” The Commission’s approval is an important step that allows the District to move forward with permitting and the construction process, which keeps the bond project on schedule for Gresham’s students.
The Design Commission requested additional minor clarifications about the proposal, including a request to consider additional landscaping, improvements to the exterior of the building and more information about changing pedestrian and automobile traffic around the new building.
Staff also testified at the hearing of how Gresham High School’s 100 years of history will be chronicled in the commons space, which will serve as a “front porch” for visitors attending sporting events and display the school’s historic trophies and yearbooks. The building’s new historic commons will open mere blocks away from Gresham’s existing Historic Downtown; Design Commissioners spoke enthusiastically about the implications for bringing more people and students to a unified downtown Gresham.
A busy 2018 for Gresham-Barlow School District
The blueprints for the new Gresham High School join those of Barlow High School, North Gresham Elementary School and East Gresham Elementary School, and all four schools are anticipating groundbreaking events in 2018. These major projects are the cornerstones of the $291.2 million bond passed by Gresham-Barlow voters in November 2016; every school in the district will see safety and security improvements and prepare the district’s students with a modern education.
Stay tuned to www.gresham-barlowbond.org as news and information about the groundbreaking of these schools gets underway next spring, and for additional updates about the progress and implementation of last year’s historic vote in support of Gresham-Barlow’s schools.