Central Catholic High School’s first wing was built in 1939. Since then, a succession of additions filled out the urban four-block site, and CCHS transformed from a 1,000-male student body to a vibrant 800-student co-ed population.
A few years ago, the school challenged Bora Architects to develop a plan to modernize the building and provide a 21st century learning environment while retaining the culture of the CCHS community.
With almost nowhere to develop on the site, the design and construction team looked for ways to expand downward, upward, and within the existing building.
The first phase of this new vision is the Monsignor Tim Murphy Center. With two stories above grade plus a basement level, it ties into the existing building, forming a continuous “loop” at the ground level and connecting to the day-lit basement.
The new wing hosts a mix of elements including academic, arts, athletic, and gathering spaces, and contains four classrooms, a large student commons, a counseling center, a music room, and a weight room.
With extensive daylighting, super-efficient mechanical systems, and sustainable landscaping, the design supports the school’s goals of responsible stewardship and provides anticipated energy savings 67 percent over code minimum.
The students were engaged throughout the design process, participating in programming workshops, and touring our office during design.
Integrated seamlessly with the existing buildings on either end, the design highlights a formerly exterior brick facade and views into original classrooms.
The Bora team worked closely with a local brick supplier and mason to develop a brick mix that would complement the original 1940s building pattern.
A variety of seating and lounge areas in the student commons and expanded walkways provide space for kids to engage in conversation and informal study.
Sixteen-foot wide sliding glass doors on either side of the commons allow the space to be opened to the football field to the east and the updated courtyard to the west.
The result is a transparent and communal learning environment expressive of the school’s vision.
Bora is an architectural firm in Portland, Oregon, with an office of 70 people working with clients across the country. Their expertise includes cultural facilities, educational buildings, residential design and workplace environments. Their work is recognized for its emphasis on beauty, craft and innovative functionality, www.bora.co.