Chicago Adaptive-reuse Project Supports Those Experiencing Homelessness or Poverty

Designed by Wheeler Kearns Architects, the new headquarters for the non-profit The Night Ministry is located in the “Mural Building” in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood. This adaptive-reuse project renovated a 3-story space to support the growing needs of the organization, which provides housing, health care and human connection to members of the community experiencing homelessness or poverty.

The 3-story space supports the growing needs of The Night Ministry, which provides housing, health care and human connection to members of the community experiencing homelessness or poverty.

A former loading dock is converted into a new well-lit accessible entrance, featuring a large awning that provides shelter and protection from the busy street. The first floor houses The Crib, The Night Ministry’s overnight shelter for young adults, ages 18-24, and includes a 21-bed sleeping room, serving kitchen, administrative offices for shelter staff, meeting rooms, and multipurpose programming space for dining, social services, job assistance and social activities. The colorful and dynamic interior mural was created by another local non-profit, Marwen, as part of its unique program where young artists receive and undertake paid commissions, a collaboration facilitated by Joy Meek, principal at Wheeler Kearns Architects.

Glass doors and windows are used throughout the public areas, creating visibility and openness that helps alleviate feelings of stress and helplessness while building trust. Meeting rooms and offices face outward toward the street and park with natural light filtering through interior clerestory windows into the central multipurpose/dining room. Corridor space is reduced to further promote feelings of emotional and physical safety. Quieter spaces, such as the sleeping room, showers and restrooms, are positioned near the back to maximize privacy.

A colorful and dynamic interior mural was created by a local non-profit, Marwen, as part of its unique program where young artists receive and undertake paid commissions.

The second and third floors are the new administrative headquarters for the Central Administration Outreach and Health Ministry Program, where open offices are connected by a new central communicating staircase. Support spaces provide varying levels of privacy and gathering, including individual phone booths, small meeting rooms, workrooms and a large conference room that can hold all-staff and full board meetings.

“The Night Ministry is thrilled with its new space in Bucktown,” says Paul W. Hamann, president and CEO of The Night Ministry. “The ability to provide guests at The Crib with modern, larger facilities has already shown several benefits, such as the guests sleeping better at night. We worked with Wheeler Kearns Architects to develop adequate storage space, so that youth don’t need to worry about the security of their belongings at night. The upstairs space for administrative and program leadership functions allows us to operate more efficiently with room to grow.”

PHOTOS: KENDALL MCCAUGHERTY, HALL + MERRICK PHOTOGRAPHERS

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