School Construction Timeline & Photos

Scroll down to see photos of our building in progress!


Click here to read an article about our new school in The Forecaster (8/24/15).

Click here to read online about Senator Angus King's visit to our new school (May 26, 2015)!
And click here for a printable version of the article. Click here to see a related article in the Portland Phoenix.

Click here to read an article and see photos of our new school in the Portland Press Herald (April 23,2015)!

Click here to watch a video about building our new home.

Click here to listen to a November 2014 episode of MPBN's Maine Things Considered in which FSP's new building is featured!

Click here to read about us on

Click here to see a November 2014 article about us in Mother Earth News.

September 2015:

We love our new school!

August 27, 2015:

The solar panels are up and we are now net-zero! Now all we need are the students...

New school with solar panels

June 27, 2015:

Good news! We will be working out of the administrative offices in our new school as of Monday, July 6. Please note that we cannot welcome walk-in visitors at this time, as it is still a construction site. We look forward to showing the building to the public in mid-August! Please click here for our new contact information.

May 26, 2015:

Senator Angus King visited our new school and discussed his proposed energy legislation with our middle school students!
Click here to read more about it.

May 19, 2015:

The siding is being installed! We're told the builiding is 62% complete.

April 25, 2015:

We have a front door!

April 10, 2015:

Head of School, Jenny Rowe, and two 6th graders stand in the Meeting Room.

March 23, 2015:

Exterior front

March 9-15, 2015:

We have a roof!

The FSP staff took a field trip to the new school during staff meeting on March 13th.
Here, some of the faculty stand in the meeting room.

January 22, 2015:

The meeting room walls are going up!

January 21, 2015:

1-2 class at new school site

Our first and second graders had so much fun seeing the walls at the new school!

January 19, 2015:


new school

new school walls

December 8, 2014:

November 26, 2014:

November 24, 2014:

November 17, 2014:


November 10, 2014:

November 10


October 26, 2014:

Awesome aerial photo of last week's progress on the new building!
Photo by 5th grader Seth Dixon.

October 17, 2014:

Concrete footings being poured.

The concrete footings are being poured!

October 14, 2014:

October 4, 2014:

FSP family and friends gathered on Saturday, October 4th to celebrate the breaking of ground for our new, Passive House-design school located at 11 Route One in Cumberland. 

Click here for a 90-second video explaining Passive House design.

August 2014:

Click here to see the recent article about us in The Forecaster!

And, click here to see an article about us in The Friend.

Groundbreaking 8.7.14

On August 7, we hosted an official groundbreaking ceremony for our new school building on 21 acres of forested land on Route One in Cumberland. More than 40 people attended the groundbreaking, including members of the construction team: Kaplan Thompson Architects, builder Peter Warren of Warren Construction Group, and the school’s Building Committee.  Also in attendance were TD Bank representatives, members of the Cumberland Town Council, leaders of the Portland Quaker community, Friends School students, parents and grandparents, faculty members and Trustees.

The new building is scheduled to open in the fall of 2015.  It is on track to be the first Passive House certified school building in Maine – only the third in the country – and will be featured at the International Passive House conference in September. Passive House design calls for a simple footprint for the building, highly advanced air-sealing and insulating techniques, and heating and cooling systems that do not require fossil fuels. As a Quaker school, Friends School of Portland was founded on principles of community, simplicity, peace, integrity, and especially, stewardship.  These principles also guided the building design process, while also taking to heart the environmental implications of building new. The first priority was to design a beautiful space for learning and teaching, but also to be as aggressive as possible in reducing the energy required. We hope our new school will be a model of what is possible for their own students and the world beyond at this critical time when climate change looms.

Our new school’s ecologically friendly design and wooded location is in full keeping with our commitment to place-based education and strong connection to nature. Place-based education – a philosophy that encompasses stewardship, but also inquiry, reflection, and action – is rooted in authentic interaction with the community and the land.  For the youngest students, place-based education focuses on the immediate surroundings. Children dig a hole on the playground, and questions naturally arise: Who lives in this patch of earth?  How did they get here? How should we treat the earth and the beings that live on and within it? For older students those early explorations reach outward, becoming global and more abstract: What is our responsibility to the people in our state and our nation? To our global community? To the environment?  How can we help to build just and sustainable communities?

Stay tuned for more photos and news as the building progresses!

July 2014:

Friends School of Portland will break ground in early August for its new school building, located on 21 acres of forested land on Route One in Cumberland. The school will be "a beautiful, net zero building based on Passive House design principles," explains Jenny Rowe, Head of School. Passive House refers to a rigorous, voluntary standard for energy efficiency in a building, thereby reducing its ecological footprint. Passive House design uses solar gain and carefully engineered air ventilation to warm and cool the building. The new school is on track to be the first Passive House certified school in Maine - only the third in the country - and will be featured at the International Passive House conference in September. It will burn no fossil fuels.

Kaplan Thompson Architects has created a light-filled school to nestle carefully into the natural surroundings, allowing Friends School of Portland to continue its signature place-based education and strong connection to nature beginning in the fall of 2015.  The building design is in full keeping with the Quaker value of stewardship, which includes the careful use of resources, an understanding of the interconnectedness of all living things, and a focus on sustainable practices. Warren Construction Group has been chosen to build the campus.


May 2014:

building site

Our new school construction site has been cleared and stabilized! We now have an entranceway and circle, as well as culverts. The whole site is prepared to receive the foundation.  At the end of May, the guardrail and electric conduits will be installed. After that, there will be a pause in the action until we begin building construction in July or August.

Our team has walked the site with a State Forester and will continue to work with a forester to develop a long-term plan for our beautiful woods.

February 2014:

2/21: James Grumbach, Peter Warren (our builder) and Soren DeNiord (our landscape architect) walked the land with Tom Cushman (our harvester) and Tim Vail (a second opinion on our harvesting status).  It has been recommended that we expand the scope of the thinning of the woodlot to promote healthy undergrowth. This has potential multiple benefits by creating a long term woodlot plan, expanding the solar gain for the building and making the logging a net positive venture. This walk was a confirmation of that.

2/25: Walking the land with Bill Longley and reps from Cumberland and Steve Blais (our civil engineer) to confirm that the flagging of the wetlands setbacks is accurate.

2/26: The excavator will come in to begin work on the road and Tom Cushman will begin his lumber harvest.

Peter Warren (our builder), Phil Kaplan (our architect) and the Building Committee are very excited to see the trees as they fall and to see what lumber we may be able to incorporate into the building.  Peter has his fingers crossed for boards 20' long and 22" wide. It was quite moving to hear him speak about idea of the kids being exposed to boards of such remarkable quality in their everyday lives. Everybody has visions!

The road and clearing will take about six weeks to complete.

December 2013:

Our building plans have been approved by the Town of Cumberland Planning Board!

(Click on the image below to view a larger PDF of each floor plan.)

First Floor Plans

Second Floor Plans

Click here for the latest Elevations.

Click here for the Site Plan.


September 2013:

Check out the latest renderings!

Rendering of Ampitheater

Rendering of Entry

August 24, 2013--FSP's Get to Know the Land Celebration!

On a beautiful summer Saturday, FSP families, friends, and supporters gathered to get to know our new land! The future site of the school building was taped out in yellow, and families were invited to save trees and ferns from the future classrooms. Children sat on cut log stools to listen to stories out in the "courtyard," ducked down into the little streams and raced through the already existing trails. Bat boxes were built, peace flags were made, naturalist tours were given, and a cookout lunch was enjoyed by all. What a lovely way to begin being together in new surroundings!

Storytime on the new land

Peace flags on the new land


Thanks to the hard work of former FSP Head of School, James Grumbach, FSP parent Pays Payson, and friendly volunteer Jean Labelle, we now have a foot bridge and two boardwalks to better access our new school site!



December 26, 2012 -- 11 US ROUTE 1, CUMBERLAND, ME

Trees on land New land photo



Friends School is very fortunate to be working with premier architects, engineers, and builders. If you have project, give them a ring. Tell them we sent you!


Kaplan Thompson Logo Hemesphere Design logo


Soren Deniord Design Studio


Steve Blais Logo Warren Construction logo



Embodying the Quaker values of Simplicity, Stewardship and Spirit

  • Quality learning environment
  • Low energy, low cost, environmentally friendly -- Passive House/Net Zero
  • Beauty


In our new building, we are trying to balance some of the negative impact we have on the earth. With new construction techniques epitomized by Passive House (passivhaus), which includes lots of insulation and air sealing combined with efficient ventilation and systemic design attention to all energy usage, through day lighting and efficient fixtures, buildings can use much less (up to 90% less) energy than standard construction. Passive House (passivhaus),
which has been used all over the world and adopted as code in parts of northern Europe creates a measurable metric and digital modeling, specific to individual buildings based on size, climate, solar gain and levels of insulation and is integrated very early in the design phase. When a building has achieved such a low level of energy usage, the
goal of NET ZERO (that is: generating as much energy as is used) is much more attainable. We have determined exactly how few solar panels we will need on our roof to get to PH/NZ.


The Building Committee has been working closely with our Finance Committee to discern whether this approach to our construction can be justified and whether it is within our financial capabilities. While the costs in the long term are clearly worthwhile FSP does not want to overextend itself in the short term. We are clear about our priorities and are determined to build at a level that reflects thoughtful consideration of competing issues and questions. We feel this building, if built to PH/NZ, will be a teaching tool for students as well as a shining example of an approach to our built environment for the broader community.



GETTING ON SITE: November 2013

PHASE I CONSTRUCTION BEGINS: June 2014 (see the exterior renderings of the Phase I design below)

MOVE IN: July 2015

PHASE II--This will occur as soon as we have adequate funding. This phase includes the gymnasium and two additional classrooms. Of course, it would be cheaper to build Phases I and II simultaneously. We will be working strenuously to achieve that.

PHASE III--Our future plans include a third phase, which will accommodate an expansion, almost doubling our student body.