Healthy, portable classrooms designed by PSU Architecture students and faculty open at Lincoln High School
Author: Karen O'Donnell Stein
Posted: October 3, 2016

Students at Portland’s Lincoln High School had something new to look forward to when they returned to classes earlier this fall. Four healthy educational spaces, known as SAGE (Smart Academic Green Environment) classrooms, opened their doors on the campus, providing spaces for academic classes, club meetings, and lectures by community leaders.

In 2015, Portland Public Schools (PPS) selected the SAGE classrooms as replacements for fire-damaged portable buildings at Lincoln High School. Seeking an economical and mobile option, district leaders met with City of Portland officials and determined that the sustainable SAGE classrooms would best meet the needs of the school and its students.

The SAGE classrooms were designed by Portland State University School of Architecture professors Margarette Leite and Sergio Palleroni and a team of students as a healthier alternative to the ubiquitous portable classrooms installed at schools across the country. These sustainable and affordable buildings are constructed with nontoxic materials and VOC-free paints. They feature efficient energy-recovery ventilators that provide fresh air, vaulted ceilings, and large windows that allow natural light into the room.

Former Governor Kitzhaber declared the project an Oregon Solution in 2011. That designation led to the formation of a multi-partner team of public agencies and commercial entities that supported the development of these remarkable classrooms. The first SAGE prototype was introduced in 2012 at the National Green Building Conference in San Francisco. The following year the SAGE classroom project received a SEED award for Social, Economic and Environmental Design.

A total of fifty-nine SAGE classrooms have been installed at thirty-two schools around the Pacific Northwest.

“We’re so proud that PPS chose the SAGE classrooms for Lincoln High School,” said Professor Leite. “Especially since Lincoln is less than a mile away from Portland State University, where the idea for SAGE was conceived and where so much of the design work took place.”

A team of Pacific Northwest companies came together to bring SAGE classrooms to Lincoln High School. Contractor Pacific Mobile Structures, manufacturer Blazer Industries, Mahlum Architects, and construction firm Ross Builders NW collaborated with PPS to purchase and install the structures.

Leite said she expects future architecture classes at PSU will visit the SAGE classrooms to learn more about healthy, environmentally friendly building methods up close.

“We are so glad that PPS is moving toward healthier and happier learning environments with the SAGE classroom. We are hopeful that we will be able to collaborate with this amazing team again at other Portland schools,” said Leite.