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SATURDAY 23 AUGUST 2014

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The Bridge Homeless Assistance Center, Dallas, Texas, United States 
Thursday 30 Dec 2010
 
 
 
Photographs © Charles Davis Smith 
 
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The Bridge initiative in Dallas sees homelessness cut by more than half 

The Bridge Homeless Assistance Center was designed to meet the growing concerns of more than 6,000 homeless in Dallas, Texas. Since its opening, chronic homelessness has been reduced by 56%, crime in the central business district has reduced by 23% and more than 1,000 individuals at The Bridge are no longer hungry, feel safe to rest and have the services available to them to return to health, jobs and permanent housing.

A collaborative effort between the City of Dallas, social workers, volunteers, healthcare providers and the architects was a key element in this achievement. The design team was charged with helping develop not just a physical programme but a management programme as well. This required the design team and committee members to travel across the country, benchmarking against best practices in order to assist the city in determining what would actually go into the building.

From this research and collaborative process, the group gained a better understanding of the needs of the homeless and used that knowledge to develop a new model for how to care for them. The result is a campus with buildings arranged around a series of landscaped courtyards that promote a sense of safety; a place where personal connections can be made and relationships developed.

At the heart of the main courtyard, the green-roofed dining room is a ‘magnet’, providing social workers with opportunity to connect with the homeless. Daylit classrooms, Intake room and Pavilion provide strong visual connection with the street. The transformation center offers comprehensive services to assist clients in achieving self-sufficiency. The Bridge elevates the quality of public spaces and provides a strong presence within the city. It engages the community in transforming the lives of its most disenfranchised members.

It proves that shelters should not be isolated, but an integrated part of our community; they are valuable civic buildings representing the compassion of our society. The Bridge has made downtown Dallas a better place to work and live. One testimonial came from an unexpected source, the owner of a company across the street. He led a fight against the plans but has now said that The Bridge is the best thing that has happened to the neighbourhood.

The Bridge has changed the lives of thousands of individuals. Since opening in May 2008, almost 900 individuals have been placed in appropriate housing with a 90% success rate at 6 months, a year and 18 months. There have been more than 1,600 people who have found employment through services at The Bridge. In addition, there have been thousands who have enjoyed meals, a safe place to sleep, showers, mail, housing for their pets, storage and barber services.

The Bridge has created a paradigm shift by taking a center for the homeless and placing it in the heart of a city’s thriving downtown area. If urban design is intended to improve the urban environment, The Bridge is a tremendous success; it is significantly changing not just a neighbourhood or a precinct, but an entire city. Where else could you invest $17 million and reduce crime by 23%?

Through this project the city has begun to work on the root cause of some of the things that were undermining its urban fabric. We have created a safe, sustainable, beautiful environment as a means of achieving a more safe, sustainable and beautiful city. This is the kind of impact that a homeless shelter can have on a city: to literally have the transformative power to change a city both physically and psychologically. This project received the USGBC LEED® Silver rating for its sustainable design. To date, it is the only building of this type to receive this certification.

Social

The Bridge Homeless Assistance Center was designed to meet the growing concerns of more than 6,000 homeless in Dallas, Texas. Since its opening, chronic homelessness has been reduced by 56%, crime in the central business district has reduced by 23% and more than 1,000 individuals at The Bridge are no longer hungry, feel safe to rest and have the services available to them to return to health, jobs and permanent housing. The Bridge has made downtown Dallas a better place to work and live. One testimonial came from an unexpected source, the owner of a company across the street. He led a fight against the plans but has now said that The Bridge is the best thing that has happened to the neighbourhood. With the 'Guests Giving Back' programme, the homeless are encouraged to provide community service to the neighbourhood, leaving it 'cleaner than it has ever been'. There is a feeling of community among the guests at The Bridge that encourages individuals to help one another. The neighbourhood is also filled with the busy activities of professionals and volunteers at The Bridge who would never have come to this neighbourhood before it was built.

Key Facts

Status Completed
Value 0(m€)
Overland Partners | Architects
www.overlandpartners.com

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Pennsylvania State University School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture

 
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