By Ken DuBois, Editor
Catlin Gabel extends campus with purchase of nearby property
Catlin Gabel’s Board of Trustees has set the stage for a new phase in the school’s progress with the purchase of a neighboring property at 8245 Southwest Barnes Road in Portland, for many years the site of the Oregon College of Art and Craft (OCAC). This addition will allow Catlin Gabel to expand its educational programs. As the metro area grows, Catlin Gabel will grow as well in preparing more young people for a life of active engagement and positive contributions, and strengthen its relationship with the community. We are excited and honored to be the new stewards of this remarkable campus.
This property expansion provides Catlin Gabel with an opportunity to advance long-term strategic, enrollment, and campus goals, and to deepen its community connections. Catlin Gabel is a leader among progressive schools, pioneering innovative education and learning environments. Enrollment goals include intentional, measured growth that provides an exceptional education to a greater number of students. The school’s campus goals are centered on providing students with more opportunities related to academics, social life, athletics, the arts, and service.
The 8.6-acre property is located about 200 yards from the main Catlin Gabel campus, and comprises 14 buildings in a natural setting. The structures include approximately 60,000 square feet of space.
The decision by the OCAC Board of Trustees to close its school is a historic loss for Portland; students and faculty of this beloved institution have created an outstanding arts education and shaped the city’s aesthetic and culture for over a century. After OCAC announced it was closing, Catlin Gabel expressed interest in the property and was ultimately selected as the buyer, in part, because of our commitment to maintain the campus as an education space, and our shared appreciation for hands-on learning and the arts.
Catlin Gabel and OCAC have deep connections. The two schools have been neighbors for over 40 years, with many common students, faculty, administrators, trustees, and friends. Both institutions believe in interdisciplinary learning, with multi-use buildings that foster collaboration and creativity. The two campuses have a similar style, as both were designed in part by the late architect John Storrs and landscape architect Barbara Fealy.
Catlin Gabel’s plans for the property are in the early stages, and will be guided by the school’s strategic goals, core values, and focus on providing students with an extraordinary learning experience. Those values include environmental sustainability, including the preservation and re-use of existing structures and space. As the surrounding neighborhood is developed, the natural beauty of the OCAC campus will be preserved.
All scenarios being considered by Catlin Gabel are based on a one-school model. While the primary purpose of the property will be to serve the students and mission of Catlin Gabel, the school is exploring ways that the campus can continue to be a community arts resource and sustain the legacy of OCAC.
In the months ahead, the Catlin Gabel School community will engage in discussions, forums, and visioning exercises related to this expansion. Input from parents and guardians, faculty and staff, alumni, friends, and students will support the school’s decision-making, and guide Catlin Gabel’s progress as an education leader and inclusive school community.