Gilkey International Middle School

  • area / size 26,500 sqft
  • Completed 2019
  • Hacker was tasked with the sustainable design for Gilkey International Middle School located in Portland, Oregon.

    Gilkey International Middle School is the new dedicated home for 6-8th graders at Portland’s French American International School (FAIS), located in the forested hills of Northwest Portland. The L-shaped building is perched at the edge of a canyon, and it steps down an incredibly steep slope right up to adjacent forest. These vibrant ecosystems and natural habitats that surround FAIS play an important role on campus and in the school’s curriculum, and the design of Gilkey aims to take advantage of the beauty and educational opportunities offered by the unique landscape.

    Gilkey provides 14 classrooms, 2 science rooms, collaboration spaces, a lunch hub, and administrative spaces that serve middle school students and staff. Many of the facility’s exterior spaces are also designed to improve connectivity across campus more broadly: the design includes a new “pedestrian street,” an amphitheater, outdoor dining facilities, and a new trailhead deck that connects to the existing system of trails than run across campus and throughout the forest. These spaces give teachers the opportunity to make functional outdoor classrooms and gives dedicated gathering space to better facilitate hands-on, outdoor learning.

    FAIS was interested in sustainable design, but worried that the challenges posed by building on their sloping site would dominate the very modest, strict budget for their project. Hacker’s team was able to turn the site into a sustainable design advantage, harnessing natural ventilation, eliminating the need for HVAC, and ultimately setting Gilkey on the path to achieving Net Zero through the Energy Trust of Oregon’s Path to Net Zero program.

    Architect: Hacker
    Photography: Bruce Damonte