Rooftop gardens, mixed-use development, walkability. A number of the recipients of this year's American Institute of Architects housing awards have these urban sustainability traits. But there's one recipient that looks at sustainable urban design in another way: curbing homelessness.
The Haven for Hope project in San Antonio turned a site with abandoned warehouses into a college-like campus for homeless.
"This project stands out as embracing and uplifting the homeless through architecture," one judge said.
The project goes beyond housing and provides education, job training, and behavior health services to address root causes of homelessness. According to AIA:
The stakeholders’ goal was to not only provide services that treated the causes of homelessness but to create a flexible campus that would allow for the expansion of programs and the development of new ones. ... The most important sustainability result is how it positively affects the city and each of its residents.
The project's 37 acre campus might not have LEED certification, permeable pavement, or rooftop gardens, but for the 1,600 people the campus houses on a given night, urban sustainability means helping those in the city that need the most help.
With services, agencies, and nonprofits on-site and easily accessible, the project also highlights one of the most important -- but less sexy -- aspects of sustainability, location. Like a scaled-down city, this project is an example of how important it is to get to necessary services quickly and efficiently. Without access to resources and necessities people -- and cities -- cannot thrive.
"While San Antonio and other communities have great services to help the homeless, having those services spread across the city lessens homeless individuals' ability to effectively utilize them," Haven for Hope's website says. "Having all of the services that they need in one place will make the services more efficient and effective, and will truly help the homeless transform their lives."
Photo: Haven for Hope
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com