Kellogg Middle School has new vision for its mission
When students arrive at the new Kellogg Middle School in fall 2021, they'll find their lessons go beyond books and classrooms.
The 110,000-square-foot building on the corner of Southeast Powell Boulevard and 69th Avenue has been designed to do more than provide spaces to learn. The school also will offer examples of how the elements of science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) come into play in the real world, from a display showing how much water the building uses, to a plaque that explains how the exposed bracing in a stairwell will help protect the building in the case of an earthquake.
The school, the first to be built specifically to accommodate Portland Public Schools' shift from a K-8 approach to a middle school program geared specifically for students in grades six through eight, also will offer some lessons for Portland Public Schools.
In addition to being the school district's first carbon-neutral school, Kellogg features systems that will allow water usage and energy efficiency to be tracked almost down to an LED light bulb.
While Kellogg isn't necessarily the prototype for future middle schools that the district might build, it is expected to serve as a model for best practices, according to Steven Effros, a senior project manager in the school district's Office of Modernization.
"I guess you could say that as a building, it's going to encompass all the new ideas about middle school education," he said.
Old and new
The new school building is expected to help bring new vitality to a corner in a Southeast Portland residential neighborhood that has been mostly inactive since the original Kellogg Middle School building was shuttered more than 10 years ago. The three-story structure, constructed in 1917, closed in 2007 as a result of districtwide enrollment decline and budgetary issues.
While the district looked at reopening the school several times, those plans never moved forward. Other than being used occasionally for meetings, the building sat vacant for a decade.
In 2017, however, PPS decided to ask voters to support a $790 million construction bond that, along with upgrading three existing high schools, would put Kellogg Middle School back online.
A common preference of the district and the community for a spate of recent construction bond projects has been to modernize existing buildings, such as the recent project at Grant High School, whenever possible. In the case of Kellogg, however, that wasn't feasible. High costs associated with abating asbestos and lead paint in the century-old structure, as well as upgrading the building to current seismic standards, were just part of the problem.
"The ... classrooms were oriented wrong — you'd get glaring light," Tim Ayersman, a senior associate with Oh planning + design, said. "A second gymnasium area in the 1980s was attached to the exterior where stairs went up and down, which created difficulty meeting modern-day (accessibility) requirements."
"We did a thorough study between (modernization) and replacement," Effros added. "To meet all the programming needs and all the health and safety requirements, the cost actually came out better to build new. ... This gives us a chance to create a new shell and a new opportunity. I think there's a lot of flexibility being built into the design for that very reason."
Maximizing minimal space
The old school building was demolished in 2018 to make way for the new school, which will sit closer to Powell Boulevard than its predecessor to fall in line with street frontage design standards.
The Powell side of the school will contain three stories of classroom suites, also called learning suites. The structure will then "step down" into a single level containing administrative offices, a commons area, and a gymnasium and multipurpose area along Southeast 69th Avenue.
"By bringing up ... the taller part of the building (along Powell), we were able to step the building down as it moved into the neighborhood, to work the scale down into the neighborhood," Ayersman said.
The six-acre site on which the school is being built is smaller than acreage usually associated with modern-day middle schools, Ayersman said. That required the design team and the school district to get creative when it came to designing in and around the building.
An outdoor area required to provide emergency vehicles with access to a side of the building without direct street access will serve double duty as an outdoor courtyard that students and staff can access via the school's interior commons area.
Meanwhile, the gymnasium will double as a performing arts space with a stage set in one wall. Fold-up seating along an opposite wall can be opened up for students during plays and other events that use the stage. The seats can then be folded out of the way to accommodate basketball games and other sports events.
"It's a very unique approach ... but because of square footage, you can't build two separate facilities," Ayersman said.
Making effective use of space still allowed some unique features to be included in the design.
In the three-story learning suites section of the school, for example, hallways offer separate learning areas where students can work on projects in small groups, giving teachers more flexibility in structuring their classes and how they teach students.
Individual classrooms also feature "safe spots" in the form of window seats that allow students who need a break to step away from the swirl of a full class while still being able to participate in activities. It's an approach that the district has been using in more traditional classrooms that is now being deliberately included in the new school's design, according to David Mayne, bond communications manager for the district.
"It's just one more tool in the toolbox for a teacher," he said.
A new Portland Public Schools policy requires that all new schools be built to target a gold rating in the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). While Kellogg Middle School has been designed to hit that goal, the building's construction takes the concept of sustainability even further.
When it opens, Kellogg will become the district's first carbon-neutral school building. Achieving that came down to a simple, but major, step — switching from traditional gas boilers to electric ones.
While achieving a carbon-neutral building wasn't a requirement for the project, the fact that it was accomplished for Kellogg means it will likely be a consideration when the district looks at building new middle schools in the future, Effros said.
The building also has been designed and constructed so that it can be outfitted to become a net-zero building.
Early energy savings will result in the short-term from approaches such as using special materials between metal plate connections to reduce thermal bridging and placing insulation beneath the concrete foundation and along the bottom of the building. In addition, when the school opens, the roof over the gymnasium multipurpose area will feature a photovoltaic panel array.
The roof of the learning suites section of the school has been set up to be outfitted in a final phase of the project with a photovoltaic array of panels that then will allow the school to generate at least as much energy as it uses. While a timeline for that final phase hasn't been determined, it's something that's a goal for the school district, Effros said.
"There are no specific plans yet, but certainly, there's a desire to be able to (make it net-zero)," he said. "It's been engineered to basically attach a separate component in the future."
Todd Construction, as project general contractor, started work on the school in July of this year. Construction is slated to wrap up in early 2021, which will give teachers and administrators time to get settled into the building before students arrive that fall. The building will have the capacity to handle 810 students. However, average student enrollment is expected to be around 675, which, Mayne said, is considered the building's "functional capacity."
The district is still figuring out logistics, including which students will attend Kellogg once it opens and whether to bring all grades in at once or introduce them year by year.
In the meantime, the tilt-up concrete panels for the gymnasium are in place and crews currently are erecting structural steel, an effort that will continue for approximately six more weeks. Further down the line, the building's exterior of Nichiha cement panels and metal will be tackled.
Right now, the project is on track, an accomplishment that Todd's project superintendent, Monte Carothers, credits in part to the weather.
"The drier-than-normal fall and early winter made a difference," he said. "That was a big help."
Kellogg Middle School
Address: 3330 S.E. 69th Ave.
Size: 61,000 square feet
Cost: $45 million
Start date: Summer 2018
Anticipated completion: January 2021
Owner: Portland Public Schools
Construction management: CBRE
Architect: Oh planning + design, Architecture
Contractor: Todd Construction
Reduce, reuse, recycle
The original three-story Kellogg Middle School building may be gone, but parts of it won't be forgotten.
Only 1% of the building after demolition ended up as landfill. The remainder was either salvaged and reused or recycled.
"The demolition is a great sustainability story in and of itself," said project architect Tim Ayersman.
An archway from the original building, for example, will be used in the entryway to the library in the new school. Two terracotta shields — one emblazoned with the name "Hoffman" and the other with the name "Kellogg" — also were saved and will be on display in the new building.
"When originally built, for a year or two, the school was called Hoffman (after the man who donated the land) before the name was changed to Kellogg ... when the second phase of the building was completed," Ayersman said. "So, we'll have those because it offers a little bit of history. It's nice bringing that information back, so we don't forget it."
In addition, furniture and fixtures that were in the old school ended up being donated to nonprofit organizations and groups.
That's the standard operating procedure, according to PPS bond communications manager David Mayne. Desks and chairs no longer needed after a modernization project at Grant High School, for example, went to serve students at a school in another part of the world.
Safe and sound
Many schools being constructed these days feature a gymnasium designed to meet Risk Category 4 standards. Buildings in that risk category — a group that includes hospitals, police and fire stations, and emergency communications centers — can be reoccupied and used immediately after an event such as a major earthquake.
Kellogg Middle School is unusual in that two portions of the building, the gymnasium and the commons area, have been designed to meet the Category 4 standards.
"In Kellogg, it's been expanded to both larger areas," said Tim Ayersman, senior associate with OH planning + design.
"In the case of an event, those portions will be able to be reoccupied and used as a hub for this (community)."
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