What can we do to help Seattle’s chemically dependent population?

To start my project I decided to look at existing, established organizations in the Seattle area in order to see how their buildings were designed and what services they provide. I looked at the REACH Program, Swedish Medical Center’s Detox Program and the Union Gospel Mission. After looking over what they provided, I expanded what I wanted to include from a simple counseling center into a much more comprehensive facility that included not only counseling and medical offices, but a library, gym, common area and private single occupant rooms. 

I wanted to get another opinion before I started drafting. This lead me to interview Edsel Blanche, the Resource Center Manager for another organization helping this population, FamilyWorks. He expressed that in an ideal situation FamilyWorks would be able to expand their program, yet currently they were limited by their space. He also reinforced my belief in having on-site housing, “We have a lot of people homeless which then leads them to substance abuse because once you lose your house that has a lot of impact on your mental health and your capability to function.” Treating chemical dependence while providing housing seemed to be the way to go.

Now that I had an idea of what I wanted in my rehab facility, I needed a location. I thought about the neighborhoods in Seattle, and ultimately decided on Sodo due to it’s high homeless population and drug related activity. I eventually settled on the lot that a Home Depot currently sits on.

Now that I had my site, I could start drafting my site and floor plan. I started by thinking about all the rooms I would include in the building and then I did a bubble diagram before moving on to the actual plans.

My first site plan
My first floor plan

I soon realized that I didn’t need this much space in order to create an effective rehab center, so I reduced the size.

My final site plan
My final floor plan

The reduced floor plan freed up a lot of space on the lot that I realized I could transform into a nice green space, something the industrial Sodo sorely lacks and the patients in the facility can use.

After this, I designed the outside of the building, modeling it in SketchUp.

Exterior and front entrance

My response is not a catchall solution to the complex issues involved in homelessness and chemical dependence. Ultimately, it is nothing more than a possible way to expand the capacity for patients to go through a program like this. The real impact comes from organizations already established and working with the community in your city. Homelessness and chemical dependence is not only an issue in Seattle, it is found in every city, every state in the US. A way that you can make an impact is to find these organizations and support them in any way you can, donations of food or supplies if they distribute these items, volunteer, donate, or best of all, ask! Look on their website for a page on what you can do to help them best, or email the appropriate person in the organization.

If my project interests you, you can find a more in depth look at it here

Link to my works cited


Questions? Comments? Feedback? Please take my short poll! link


Share this project
  1. April 23, 2020 by Moses Rifkin

    I really appreciate you taking on this important issue, Caroline, which affects all cities but seems really relevant to Seattle.

    I’m wondering if you considered speaking not just with homelessness advocates, but with one of our homeless neighbors about what they’d want from such a structure?

    I really enjoyed seeing your structure evolve. Why did you decide you didn’t need as much space for the rehab facilitity?

  2. April 23, 2020 by Malia

    Hey Caroline,
    What a great way to tackle such an important issue! I really like how you ended up adding a large garden/outside area to the design, as getting outside can greatly increase peoples’ wellbeing (something I have come to experience amidst the current pandemic).
    I wonder what are some other ways you can ensure peoples’ wellbeing through your design? Maybe through adding a library or small set studio?
    Overall great work!

  3. April 23, 2020 by Elise

    I live in Seattle and have also witnessed the shortage of resources and max capacity of organizations supporting those struggling with addiction, so it is really cool to see this different approach to the issue!

  4. April 24, 2020 by Ahmad Rasheed

    Nice work Caroline! Your project idea of developing a rehabilitation sp[ace for those who are chemically dependent is one of the unique ideas I have seen throughout the catalyst projects I have viewed. You have worked for a great cause which can really help your city get better. Great work!

  5. April 24, 2020 by Anne Bingham

    I really appreciate seeing the stages of planning evolution drawn out. Having the property photo to start with makes your vision so rich. I’m glad you got to design for a specific problem in a specific site–that’s a real world solution.

  6. April 24, 2020 by Richard Kassissieh

    Caroline, this is very impressive and specific work. I appreciate that you spoke with the experts and adopted a learning orientation. Then you developed specific plans, including a proposed site plan and architectural rendering to bring your theoretical ideas to life.

  7. April 25, 2020 by Taggert Smith

    Hey Caroline, it’s great how you’ve chosen to tackle such a prevalent issue in your community. You’ve done a great job of documenting your process and the evolution of your design, which was interesting to see. Im curious as to why exactly the decision was made to reduce the size, but I think the addition of green space is worthwhile on almost any site. Well done!

  8. April 26, 2020 by Delfine

    Hiya Caroline! The way you’ve approached your solution is wonderful. I love your sketches and model, and your consideration of creating a green space in the facility is really telling of how your architecture is meant to help those in need. I like how you considered architectural techniques in the interior space of the facility: the square datum is a nice touch. I think you did a fantastic job. Well done!

  9. April 26, 2020 by Cole

    Great job Caroline! It’s awesome how well you were able to tackle such a prevalent problem in todays society. I like how you really care about the clients of the building you seek to make and how that care is shown through the building and facilities. It was also a nice touch how you told us what we can do to help out.

  10. April 26, 2020 by Spencer

    Hi Caroline, you really did a great job on this project! I think you picked a great topic and I can tell how passionate you were through your work. I think you really developed your ideas well, and your sketches/drawings are great and really convey your ideas.

  11. April 26, 2020 by Spencer

    Hi Caroline, you really did a great job on this project! I think you picked a great topic and I can tell how passionate you were through your work. I think you really developed your ideas well, and your sketches/drawings are great and really convey your ideas. Great Work!

  12. April 27, 2020 by Maile Cheung

    Hi Caroline, I am really impressed by how your project turned out! I watched your project grow since day one, and I can definitely see all the changes you made to your project in order to improve it. I really liked the way that you have presented your project and it is very organized and easy to read/understand. I hope this becomes something in the future, as I’m sure this would help many people in the Seattle area. Awesome job!

  13. April 27, 2020 by Derek Foyt

    Hi Caroline! Great floor plans! Floor plans are something I always enjoy looking at. They are a 2D map of structures and shows the mobility, the uses, and where everything is located. With your floor plans I was super excited to see all of this. It was greatly laid out and easy to understand!

  14. April 27, 2020 by Rojan Naimi

    Hi Caroline! I really love your project. From the beginning your idea was super unique and had a really great connection to your community and seeing it develop from the beginning was awesome. Your floor plans are really well done and clear, and I love your final sketch-up design. Great job!

  15. April 27, 2020 by Iman

    Hi Caroline,

    As someone who lives in Seattle and has seen the homeless and drug problems in Seattle (especially in Sodo), I find this topic really interesting and important to talk about. I appreciate all of the detail and time you put into this project with the sketches and plans for where and how to build this facility, and it really adds to the project. One question I have for you is how would this facility monitor who would be admitted and who wouldn’t? You mentioned that many places are already full to capacity and I would suspect this one to fill up quite fast too. Overall, great work!


  16. April 27, 2020 by Mais

    Hey Caroline, I think that your project is very well thought out. You clearly did a lot of good and extensive research that led you to this very creative and amazing solution. I really like the fact that there are many rooms in the structure, which allow a bigger majority of people to be able to use this space. Well done!

  17. April 28, 2020 by Ella Peterson

    Hey Caroline! I really enjoyed looking through your project. You’ve come up with a building that could be incredibly helpful in your area. I like how you focused on efficiency- maximizing the space available for patients in a limited area. And this sort of project could be applicable to areas all over the world! It’s a great way to provide underserved people with healthcare and help build community as well.

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