In early October of 2013, we took a field trip to Washington High School. Washington High School’s last graduating class was 1981 and it has been out of daily use and essentially abandoned since the early 1990’s.
As we ascended the staircase into the deserted building, you couldn’t help but picture the halls and steps bustling with students. The lockers that line the wide halls, staked liked a long loaf of sliced bread. Each classroom with it’s own IBM clock (for the moment stuck in time), old intercoms complete with mouthpiece, chalkboards, and mounted crank pencil sharpeners. Porcelain urinals and sinks. Squeaky linoleum floors.
Even the smell of the space, inexplicably, has that smell of school. You know the one.
Our friends at Venerable Properties set out to revive Washington High School and bring it back to it’s previous glory, not as a High School, but as a unique retail and office space for designer folks like us. If we were not already happily tucked away in the historic White Stag building, we would be moving in Washington High School. No question.
When we were invited to join the team and design a website for this historic Portland building, we felt like we had just made Varsity. The future plans for the school will to breath new life into the community with a host of activities planned. The auditorium, with its wrap around balcony and curved wooden seats, will serve as a venue for concerts and other events. It will serve as the heart of the building and promises to keep the building buzzing like it did in the old days.
As we explored the building and ambled about, poking our heads into room after room, we were like giddy, well… schoolkids. But nothing could have prepared us for the surprise waiting for us on the roof. Looking West you are greeted by Portland and the West Hills, and to the East, the iconic Mount Hood on a clear day. One day the roof will be a space for events, sure to be a popular venue, expect to attend your niece’s wedding there in the near future. The view from the rooftop is a show stopper, make no mistake.
With our minds full of inspiration from this trip, we set out to create a website that stayed true to its roots. While we are intrigued by its past, from the look of it, its future will prove to be far more interesting.
We created a website that bridges gap between these two stories, simultaneously conjuring up the nostalgia and energy that is high school while also getting down to business and helping to fill Washington High School once again.