Jonathan Card of Urbanist Design and I recently teamed up to work on a project for a transformational homeless center in Lubbock, Texas. Run by Link Ministries, the center is part of a larger transformational program that seeks to provide residents with a stable base of shelter and services upon which they can rebuild their lives in order to become self-sufficient members of society.
Link Ministries has been developing the project for several years and their current facility consists of a "tent city" that sits on the grounds of a former cotton gin to the east of the central business district of Lubbock. Our involvement with the project is just getting underway and we were in town this week to conduct a workshop with the leaders and stakeholders of the project to refine the program and define a conceptual direction for it. We are also working closely with Urban Tech - a program of the Texas Tech College of Architecture whose students have conducted initial site and design studies for the project. We are also working with Studio Outside out of Dallas.
As part of our research, I spent a night in one of the tents where program participants live as they transition from living on the streets into a more normative housing situation. These tents are a critical part of the program in that they provide humane accommodations for participants in the 90-day program but are primitive enough that residents have the motivation to move on to more permanent housing.
The night I spent was pleasant enough as the lows were only in the 40s and the ubiquitous Lubbock wind was relatively calm. Of course, I am not homeless - I knew this was an overnight adventure and that I would be sleeping in my own bed the following night. Those sleeping in the tents next to me were not so fortunate.
Still, the experience was insightful and helped inform some of the design decisions we will make as we move forward of this exciting and important project for the Lubbock community.
A short news story describing the effort that includes me stumbling through an on-air interview can be found here.