Every once in a while comes a project that we feel strongly about. It could be due to the vocation of the center and the sensibility of the function it addressed, or the approach taken by the architects and the city of Dallas in creating a complex intended as a safe haven within the heart of its community.
Naming the project “The Bridge” Overland Partners, worked for the integration of the Center to its neighborhood, the planning in this project, one of the recipients of the 2009 AIA Housing Awards, balances personal safety of guests and neighbors with hospitality. Temporary shelter is a reclaimed warehouse while transitional housing is on upper floors, separating disparate populations. Sleeping areas have translucent walls that welcome natural light and remind the City of the presence and function of the building.
Facing downtown, the transparency, light, and colors from the dormitories and classrooms act as a beacon of hope to the homeless at this most difficult time of day.
The Bridge sits on the edge of the City’s Emerald Bracelet; a plan for a contiguous series of parks, trails, and landscaping that will circle the Central Business District, Arts District, and Farmers Market.
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This allows the homeless to access the site from downtown and surrounding areas. The project’s courtyard becomes a destination on the Emerald Bracelet.
The Welcome Building’s common room and reception are clearly visible from the street and the courtyard.
A vegetative roof floats above the dining room. The indoor/outdoor eating area acts an extension of the courtyard.
The Sleeping Pavilion (converted warehouse) opens into the Courtyard, Services Building and the City beyond.
The third floor dormitories: light filled communal spaces become a refuge from the street, and a place for contemplation and interaction.
A publicly-selected artist, Gordon Huether, worked with homeless, superimposing their writings over brightly colored glass — a metaphor for the spectrum of humanity. Facing downtown, this is a gift to the community, a magnet for the homeless, and a source of inspiration.
Echoing the spirit of the project he states : « It proves that shelters should not be isolated, but an integrated part of our community; they are valuable civic buildings representing the compassion of our society. »
Photographs and illustrations, courtesy of the AIA.