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« Irene Nigaglioni, AIA, REFP, awarded 2009 Planner of the Year

SCOTTSDALE, AZ (October 19, 2009) – Rosa Parks School and the Community Campus at New Columbia, Portland, Oregon, received the highly regarded 2009 James D. MacConnell Award for school facility planning excellence during the Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI) recent World Conference & Expo in Washington, DC. The internationally recognized award was created by CEFPI to acknowledge the significant contributions that Dr. MacConnell made to both the profession of planning educational facilities and to CEFPI. The MacConnell Award is presented to the most exemplary project that demonstrates a comprehensive planning process, development of wide-ranging educational specifications, and a design that meets the requirement of the educational program.

The Rosa Parks School and the Community Campus at New Columbia began as a community conversation concerning Columbia Villa, a low income housing project that had fallen into economic and social disrepair and resulted in a collaborative vision to rebuild Columbia Villa as a mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood called New Columbia, anchored by the Community Campus. The centerpiece of the Community Campus is the new Rosa Parks School, the second new school to be designed and constructed by Portland Public Schools in 30 years.

The firm of Dull Olson Weekes Architects led the district in a consensus-based design process which involved city leaders, Columbia Villa residents, adjacent neighbors, Housing Authority commissioners, local businesses, staff and parents. Meeting at the Community Campus, a Campus Compact was drawn that integrated the public-private partnership creating a framework for operations, funding, rights and obligations, as well as an on-site committee to deal with future initiatives and issues. The partners include the Housing Authority of Portland (HAP), Portland Public Schools, Boys and Girls Club and Portland Parks & Recreation.

Without the combination of private, public and federal funds, Rosa Parks School and the Community Campus might still remain a dream. Over 25 private donors and foundations provided support and in-kind services for this truly intergenerational center. Federal tax credits provided supplemental funding and the state of Oregon provided monies to procure furniture. Even more importantly, by partnering, sharing space, and aligning programs, the overall cost of the project was reduced almost by half.

The school is Portland Public School’s first “green” development and has been certified LEED Gold. Environmentally focused, Rosa Parks’ developable property is less than 1.8 acres and nearly 90% of the students walk or bike to school. The school is divided into four educational neighborhoods, each serving 125-130 students. Internal programs are augmented by support from local businesses that provide mentorship, and family participation is encouraged.

“Rosa Parks School and Community Campus is to be congratulated for its intensive collaboration and community planning that resulted in an exemplary model for building future community partnerships, outstanding learning environments and strong neighborhoods in the Portland Public Schools district. It truly is a sustainable learning laboratory, including photovoltaics, 100 % stormwater retention and a community garden,” stated Judy Hoskens, REFP, president, CEFPI.

The construction of the Rosa Parks School and Community Campus was instrumental in initiating a city-wide conversation regarding all Portland Public School facilities, the roles of school in the community and the community in the school. In a city noted worldwide for its exemplary planning, schools seem to have been forgotten. The conversation concluded with the development of a set of Guiding Principles on which the district will base future school decisions. These principles include: schools as center of community and neighborhood; community and the development of partnerships; creative teaching and learning; sustainability- think green/teach green; and, adaptability to continuous change.

The Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI) is the only professional organization whose principal purpose is improving the places where children learn. CEFPI embraces a diverse group of professionals with one single goal – building healthy, safe, high performance and sustainable learning environments that enhance student and teacher performance and support culture and community vitality. To learn more, visit

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