1. End to Homelessness

Designed as part of the city of Portland’s and Multnomah County’s 10-year Plan to End Homelessness, the eight-story building, which leased up in September 2011 in the Old Town/Chinatown neighborhood, offers a new concept: Under one umbrella and with separate entrances, there are 130 permanent supportive studio apartments for the chronically homeless, a 90-bed men’s transitional shelter, and a day center with a common room indoors for people to grabcoffee, get a haircut, shower, or do laundry.

2. Sustainability Hive

Julie Livingston, senior project manager of Home Forward (formerly Portland’s housing authority), which owns anddeveloped the building, cast her vote for LEED Platinum sustainable choices to pare energy and operating costs. Holst Architecture and Mayer/Reed, a landscape architecture and urban design firm, selected solar hot-water and graywater recycling systems, an eco-roof, and an urban agriculture terrace.

3. Durable Packaging

To fit into its historic neighborhood of masonry buildings, including the 1896 Union Station, the concrete building was given a brick veneer for a locally made, durable skin. Two shades of brick humanize the 105,000-square-foot, rectangular building, and large windows bring in light and views. The half-city-block site, once used for parking, also incorporates two courtyards. A 16-foot-wide steel gate with latticework makes an elegant welcome to those entering the day center. Total construction cost: almost $30 million.

4. Leafy Metaphor

To soften the brick with a feeling of tree canopies, eight shades of green frame the exterior windows, and green inspired the choice of seating in the common room—used daily by the homeless—as well. Locally based social services agency Transition Projects manages both the day center and the men’s shelter. “We wanted this to be a one-stop shop with a continuum of services. This is now the ‘front door’ for services for single homeless adults,” says Transition’s executive director, Doreen Binder.

5. Making a Difference

Project architect Dave Otte felt it was key tomake the building indistinguishable from nearby market-rate units. The building succeeded and has won awards from the Brick Industry Association and ASLA’s Oregon chapter. After leasing up in three months, the apartments have a waiting list of 100. Also, 6,684 have used the day center. Another 486 have touched the architectural team, which prepares a monthly meal known as “Dinner With an Architect.”