Homeless Drop in Center
The Drop-In Center is a nurturing social place, both civic and intimate in its presence that invites in those at the bottom of the social ladder. It augments nearby shelters by providing the homeless with on-site programming, counseling, and health services.
The Center, intended as a sanctuary from the streets, is a place to gather one’s self. Here, the homeless are meant to feel like “guests,” and light is seen as the medium of the spirit, fundamental to the creation of an architecture of joy and dignity.
Arrival to the Center is through a linear garden procession that is parallel and adjacent to the street. The centerpieces of the complex are the promenade-lined Courtyard and the Clubhouse. The portico lining the south is open to the sky, while the covered portico lining the north is backlit with natural light, with the Clubhouse bordering the east.
Designed and built in just over one year, this low cost, ($700.00 USD/square meter) 743 square meters building and 650 square meters courtyard had to be both extremely tough and extremely engaging. While the hope was to attract at least 200 people a day, the Center has been attracting between 800 and 1400 guests daily. It is considered a phenomenal success by the guests, the operators, as well as its owners, the Los Angeles Homeless Shelter Authority. It is an uplifting and compelling social place in Los Angeles and a model for cities nationwide for addressing the needs of the homeless.
A few months ago, Michael Lehrer took some of his architecture students to visit the project. At the Drop-In Center, a user — referred to as a “guest”—saw the group and started talking about how the Center changed his life. When he found out Lehrer was the architect, the guest came over to Lehrer, who gave him his hand to shake; the guest pushed it aside and embraced Lehrer with feeling, thanking him for making this special place. It was a good and all too rare sight for the students; for us, that’s why we become architect. Happily, in projects such as these, such stories are not uncommon.
Ahwahnee Award, American Institute of Architects - California Council, 2002
Institute Honor Award for Architecture, American Institute of Architects, 2001
Award of Excellence - National Concrete Masonry Association, American Institute of Architects, 2000
Honor Award for Excellence in Design, American Institute of Architects - California Council, 2000
LA Beautification Award, Los Angeles Business Council, 2000
Award of Merit for Excellence in Design, American Institute of Architects - Los Angeles, 1999
Los Angeles, CA
Downtown Homeless Drop-In Center
Lehrer Architects with F. Ameen
Cost & Scope
$800,000, 6,000 square feet
Michael Lehrer – Design Lead Principal
Christian Arndt – Project Manager Consultants
Mia Lehrer + Associates – Landscape