Housing Complex

Homeless Shelters Get Better Design!

The new plan for 611 N Street NW, which is now as bad as buildings get. (CORE)

People dislike social service facilities like homeless shelters and drug treatment centers for lots of reasons, but one of them is that they are typically really ugly. Take the now-demolished La Casa shelter on Irving Street in Columbia Heights, for example: Designed for invisibility, it was just a cinderblock bunker. Same's true of New Endeavors by Women at 611 N Street NW, which houses a 24-hour low-barrier shelter for women in a windowless brick box.

Both of them, however, have drawings on the boards for much better buildings. The Department of Human Services has retained CORE Architects to design the new 611 N Street (above) and Studio 27 Architecture blogged back in August about its design for La Casa (in conjuction with Leo A Daly), which will have single rooms for men rather than one big room with bunks. Both appear to be much more airy and attractive than their predecessors, which will hopefully change the way the public thinks about homeless shelters as well. Props to the city for choosing quality architecture for its poorest residents.

The new La Casa. (Studio Twenty Seven Architecture/Leo A Daly)

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