Ocean Ave Elementary School


credits: WBRC Architects ∙ Engineers, Blind Dog, Bernard C. Meyers

Project Name

Ocean Ave Elementary School

Nestled in the center of Portland, a small in-town property has been revitalized with a new school. The arrival plaza welcomes all Kindergarten through Fifth grade students with kinetic artwork, building forms scaled and appointed for children, and safe access for pedestrians. The learning spaces offer flexibility for individualized learning opportunities.
Sidewalks allow pedestrians uninterrupted, safe access to the building without crossing vehicular paths. The site design includes minimized hard surface paving with curb free accessible parking located directly adjacent to the main entrance.
As a welcoming element, the exterior artwork compliments the building aesthetics. Early involvement with the artist allowed a collaborative approach to meld art, architecture, and landscape. Early coordination of sculpture placement ensured an accessible route was maintained while also being located near students to engage and inspire them on their way to school.
The front entrance features two sloped canopies that converge to capture daylight for building interiors and also scale the entry to welcome young learners. The entry column bases act as cane detection while allowing the column design to slope with the roof. The entry doors pay tribute the former school on this site, while updating stile heights for accessible hardware for children.
Inside the building, students experience open, flexible spaces. Classrooms offer both large and small instruction spaces, allowing flexibility in teaching methods. Daylighting has been maximized to enhance student comfort. Quiet, low volume mechanical systems offer improved classroom acoustics. Use of contrasting colors and materials aid in way finding. The curious hands of children meet tactile, decorative wall tiles as they move through the corridors. Common spaces, such as the library, integrate low window sills for capturing views of the surrounding wooded site and green roof.
The result is a unique, dedicated space for creative minds that is minutes from downtown Portland.

Architecture or A/E Firm Name

WBRC Architects Engineers


Michael Johanning, AIA


Ann Archino Howe, PE Sustainable Design Studio; Stephanie LaPlant, PE WBRC AE; Jenifer Richard, CID WBRC AE; Dan Monroe, PE WBRC AE; Peter Biegel, ASLA Land Design Solutions; John Poulin, PE WBRC AE


Cavanaigh Tocci Associates, TJM Consulting, May & Watkins Design


Portland, ME


Portland Public Schools and the City of Portland

General Contractor

Ledgewood Construction