One of the interesting side effects of writing a blog like this one is you frequently meet people who are in the AEC industry who try and leverage their knowledge, resources, and abilities in order to help others. I have been asked to help spread the message of a program called “AEC Cares“. To help articulate the purpose and charge of this year’s endeavor, Jill Goodman, an editor from Reed Construction Data’s RSMeans team wrote this article. You can also visit the AEC Cares website and make a donation – people can contribute in several ways and no amount it too small.
This year, as its third annual event, AEC Cares is taking on projectDenver with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. Reed Construction Data, Hanley Wood and the AIA have formed a partnership to renovate the public spaces of an early 20th century building, originally a synagogue, and now a fully-staffed, long-term home to some of Denver’s formerly homeless citizens. The well-meaning deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill has left afflicted adults on the streets. As if that weren’t bad enough, they could be arrested and end up in jail for this “offense.” AEC Cares thinks these men and women deserve a home that is beautiful, as well as functional, and is volunteering their energy and talents toward that goal.
The design team for the project is:
- Path21 Architecture
- Bill Turner, Assoc. AIA
- Jim Jose, AIA
- John Nap, AIA
- Sinclair Design Group
- Emily Sinclair, NCIDQ
- Layton Construction
- Jeana Krause
- Russ Triplett
- Jesse Young
Jim Jose and Bill Turner, of Path21 Architecture, recently spoke to me about renovating Beacon Place, the 85-bed home for vulnerable people who have nowhere else to turn. These include adults with mental illness, as well as disabled veterans and women escaping abusive relationships. It’s also a haven for homeless adults recently discharged from hospitals after surgery or other serious medical conditions.
“While Beacon Place is a commercial project with managers and counselors, we really approach this from the standpoint that it is somebody’s home, and that they are recovering—maybe from a tragedy,” Bill offers as the philosophy behind the renovations of the cafeteria, ladies lounge and outdoor space. Beacon Place is not intended to be temporary housing, but rather more of an extended-stay residence that provides a stable home and a staff for emotional and physical support.
“From day one, it was important to engage the residents in the renovation design,” adds Jim. The aim is to create a stable, safe, comfortable and attractive home with quality materials and great design.
The old cafeteria, “more of a dining hall,” explains Jim, “will have new finishes, fresh paint, new flooring and pockets of gathering spaces.” He envisions the dining hall as not only a place to take meals, but also as an area that invites the residents to come and go, have casual conversations or receive counseling. The wood-look floor, taupe wainscoting and light olive walls will be a soothing background.
For the women residents—homeless, abused and traumatized—the architects have designed a women-only lounge. This will be a safe area for them to heal psychologically and put their lives back together with the help of the two counselors on staff. In the lounge, they can get employment advice, pick up their mail or just hang out, have a snack and watch TV. “The women are very excited about having their own retreat,” says Jim.
The renovation of Beacon Place is to make it more than just a functional facility to house the homeless; it’s to make it a calm, beautiful and secure home where they can live with hope and dignity. Path 21 is dedicated to the idea of great architecture for everyone and is enthused to be partners with AEC Cares on projectDenver to lift up the homeless in their own city.
After the design is finalized, skilled labor takes care of the demolition and lays the groundwork for the renovation. And then—the project culminates in a one-day blitz-build on June 19, when 80 to 100 volunteers, equipped with tools and determination, come together to complete the tasks. This event is timed to coincide with 2013 AIA National Convention in Denver.
You can help to bring long-lasting safety and security to adults who are otherwise alone and struggling. Please, make a contribution to AEC Cares projectDenver to let them know someone is concerned about them and cares that they have a comfortable, lovely home. http://www.reedconstructiondata.com/aec-cares/donate/
**AEC Cares – projectDenver Update**
The Denver AEC Cares project was a huge success – we are very grateful to those volunteers who contributed the time and resources to the cause. I thought I would be nice to show some of the stats and some before and after images of the work that was accomplished:
Here are a few of the stats on the project:
- 150+ volunteers
- 2000+ volunteer hours
- 100+ paint brushes and rollers
- 140+ plants
- 850 sqft pavers for the patio
- 35 Gallons of paint
- 50+ sponsors
Thanks again to all who participated, we look forward to seeing you in 2014 at AEC Cares – projectChicago