Home is where the green is at The Bridge Homeless Assistance Center. The downtown Dallas-located facility announced yesterday (March 8) its newly acquired LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), marking it as the largest homeless shelter to gain LEED ranking.
-By Stacy Straczynski
Designed by San Antonio-based Overland Partners Architects and Dallas-based CamargoCopeland Architects, The Bridge (May 2008) features five buildings that successfully incorporate multiple sustainable amenities, including: natural daylighting, with 90 percent of regularly occupied spaces containing outdoor views; a greywater recycling system that conserves 1.5 million gallons annually; a temporary shelter built within a reclaimed warehouse; a green-roofed dining room; and the inclusion of native, low-irrigation plants in the landscape.
Additionally, all building materials were chosen based on their environmental impact—100 percent low VOC, 20 percent local materials, and 40 percent contained recycled components. A waste management program allowed for 70 percent of construction waste to be recycled.
The Bridge sits on a 3.41-acre site and boasts a 600-person occupancy capacity. The multi-purpose facility includes a one-story welcome building, three-story services building, dining hall, storage facility, and open-air pavilion.
“With our design, we aimed to not only create a facility that provides the most basic human need, shelter, but to also create a space that encourages and welcomes outside organizations, volunteers and donors to provide the helping hands that our homeless population needs,” says Rick Archer, FAIA, LEED-AP, founding principal of Overland Partner Architects. “Since the doors to The Bridge opened, the center has been more successful than anyone anticipated. It has been widely accepted by homeless people, and the facility, which was designed for 400, now handles up to 1,000 people a day.”
The design was recently awarded the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) 2009 National Housing Award, the AIA/Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Award, a 2009 National Excellence in Design Award from Environmental Design + Construction magazine and the 2009 Chicago Athenaeum’s American Architecture Award.
“Being awarded LEED Silver from the USGBC, as well as the other national honors, The Bridge has received, demonstrates what we’ve said all along – homeless shelters and good design don’t have to be mutually exclusive. With good design, homeless shelters can more effectively serve the needs of the less fortunate, while improving their communities,” says Andrews.