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