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What Should a New Ida B. Wells Campus Look Like?

[December 8, 2023]

Ida B. Wells and Cleveland are the final high schools to be modernized in a years-long initiative by Portland Public Schools (PPS). Wells is slated for a complete re-build. What should the new campus look like? What features are important to retain? What should be added?

Members of the community have a chance to provide input into plans for the new campus at a public design workshop on Sunday, December 17, from 1-3pm in the Wells Cafeteria. A light lunch will be served at 12:30pm. This is the second public workshop. The third and final workshop is scheduled for January 21.

Concerned about how many parking spaces will be built? Where the front entrance will be located? Access to and from the Capitol Highway bus stops and to established public trails? Then be sure to attend the December 17 design workshop and contribute to the conversation.

The workshop will gather feedback on options for the physical layout of the elements of the new campus—main buildings, athletic facilities, parking, etc. It will build on the first workshop and the first three meetings of the Comprehensive Planning Committee (CPC). The work of the CPC is scheduled to end in May of 2024 with the submission of one preferred design, along with a budget, for approval by the school board.

The Committee

The CPC is made up of 40 volunteers—Wells staff, students, and parents, as well as other members of the community— who are working with PPS staff, Bora Architects, and a host of other professionals hired by the district.

The team includes at least two Wilson alumni: Lead Bora Architect Stefee Knudsen (class of '88, married to a graduate of the class of '85), and Jeremy Shetler, Wells teacher and baseball coach. At the first meeting of the CPC, Shetler observed that as student, coach, and teacher, he has spent over half his life in the building he is now working to re-design from the ground up.

The design team hired by the district includes specialists and subcontractors with expertise in accessibility, theater design, and landscape design, among other areas.

Three Options

At the most recent CPC meeting, members of the design team introduced three site plans.

Each configuration would cost about the same to build, said Knudsen, with the main building being far the most expensive component. Relocating or updating athletic fields and other facilities will likely only take up 2-3% of the overall budget. That includes the possibility of building a new pool.

Three Footprint Options

The Process and Timeline

A comprehensive master plan was developed in 2019. The current phase to determine what goes where on the site, is referred to as the "comprehensive planning" process.

Following that is another phase that will include design, development, and permitting. That process is expected to take anywhere from 18-24 months. Next, construction on the main building could take up to a year, during which time the school will continue to operate in the old building. Any necessary work on athletic fields will likely take another year after that.

Somewhere along that that timeline the school board will have to commit to placing a bond measure on the ballot, probably in the fall of 2024. If approved, the bond would fund the modernization of both Wells and Cleveland high schools.

To find more information on the Wells modernization project as well as materials on past and upcoming meetings, go to PPS's Ida B. Wells Modernization Planning & Design webpage.

—Valeurie Friedman


Questions? Comments? Thoughts? Let us know.


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