Adding light rail to SW Jefferson Street in downtown Portland, OR, widened the right-of-way. At Lincoln High School, the new sidewalk ran right up to the school's sports track. The engineering team reconciled the difference in elevation with a 15-foot tall by 134-feet long concrete and chain link fence.

Instead of bracing for litigation, we saw an opportunity build community and goodwill by bringing the fence into the light rail's art program. We awarded the art project to an artist inspired by the various window shapes discovered in the legacy architecture of the adjacent Goose Hollow neighborhood homes and ideas from students at the adjacent Lincoln High School.

Transforming a roadside eyesore into a work of art that involved a community.

This "wall as windows" design theme, turned into a row of painted steel window shapes set atop a thick cast-in-place concrete wall with bronze and glazed tile inlay and relief work. The artist, students and teachers then worked together to hand-make etched bronze castings, silicone formwork molds and over 800 ceramic tiles.

Art tended to bring out the most agreeable qualities of both place and people.
Succeeded in getting a local woven wire mesh fabricator to donate material to the project.

As one of over a hundred art elements on the 18-mile light rail line, this project was unique in that it inspired collaboration between school, community, engineers, fabricators and contractors. The project won an Excellence in Concrete Award from the Oregon Concrete Institute in 1995, and upon completion in 1996 it won a Specialty Concrete Award from the Portland Cement Association.

The concrete and steel plate wall told the 125-year history of the school through a ribbon of words, yearbook figures and images that represented common memories and moments across time.


Responsible for collaborating with artist from concept through construction. Participated in artist interview and selection process. Worked closely with artist, fabricators and structural engineers to prove concept build-ability. Prepared construction drawings and specifications.

Role: Architect

Setting: ZGF Architects, Portland Trimet - Urban Design & Planning

Location: Portland, Oregon

Year: 1995