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2009 AIA Housing Awards
The Bridge
Homeless Assistance Center
Dallas. TX
The Bridge Homeless Assistance Center, located in downtown Dallas,
has received two prestigious national awards for its design: the American
Institute of Architects’ (AIA) 2009 AIA National Housing Award and the AIA/
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Award. San Antonio-
based Overland Partners Architects, in conjunction with Dallas-based
CamargoCopeland Architects, provided architectural services for the center.
Completed in May 2008 and
commonly known as “The Bridge,”
the multi-purpose facility is dedicated
to providing safe haven and social
services for more than 6,000 homeless
people in Dallas, empowering both
the chronic and newly homeless
to come off the streets and sustain
permanent housing in order to live
productively.
Unlike traditional homeless
assistance facilities that resemble
dark  warehouses and gymnasiums,
The Bridge features translucent
walls that allow natural light to
flood into residential areas, glass
art created by Gordon Huether
was selected to design and
fabricate a site-specific artwork for
The Bridge. Huether created seven
art glass windows that feature
mouth-blown glass and etched,
silk-screened text from writings by
some of the shelter’s clients. panels
inscribed with poetry written  
by the homeless.
“With our design, we aimed to not only create a facility that provides the most
basic human need, shelter, but to also create a space that encourages and
welcomes outside organizations, volunteers and donors to provide the helping
hands that our homeless population needs,” said Rick Archer, FAIA, LEED-AP,
founding principal of Overland Partners. “Since the doors to The Bridge opened,
the center has been more successful than anyone anticipated. It has been
widely accepted by homeless people, and the facility, which was designed for
400, now handles up to 1,000 people a day.”
The Welcome Building’s common
room and reception are clearly
visible from the street and the
courtyard.
The success of The Bridge is tangible as well.  The surrounding neighborhood is
revitalizing, downtown crime has dropped since it opened, and complaints
about homeless people from business owners in the central business district
have decreased. Center operators also say they have reduced the need for
hospitalizations, jail bookings and arrests.
A vegetative roof floats above the dining room. The indoor/outdoor eating area
acts an extension of thecourtyard.
As described by the jury for the AIA 2009 Housing Awards, “a publicly-selected
artist worked with homeless, superimposing their writings over brightly colored
glass - a metaphor for the spectrum of humanity. Facing downtown, The
Bridge is a gift to the community, a magnet for the homeless, and a source of
inspiration. 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 Sleeping Pavilion (converted warehouse) opens into the Courtyard, Services
Building and the City beyond
Facing downtown, the transparency, light, and colors from the dormitories and classrooms
act as a beacon of hope to the homeless at this most difficult time of day.

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