January 27, 2017

L.A. housing unit aims to serve those who served us: homeless vets

Get inspired by these three stories on innovation and ingenuity in America

An innovative housing project is seeking to assist homeless veterans. Photo by Tara Wujcik

“I’ve got your six”: This week, we were inspired by Co.Design’s coverage of The Six, a supportive housing unit for homeless veterans. The shelter—a stylish white cube that eschews ornamentation—was recognized this year by the American Institute of Architects, and at first glance, one might mistake it for any other swanky LA complex. The space was built with veterans in mind. Brooks + Scarpa, the design firm behind the building, frequently conferred with homeless and disabled veterans in the planning stage. The structure maximizes natural ventilation and daylight, and features a computer lab, a small courtyard, and rehabilitation and support facilities. “[G]ood design is a basic civil right and everyone deserves good design,” Angela Brooks, the managing principal at Brooks + Scarpa told Co.Design. “People have a right to live in a place that lifts their spirits, especially Veterans.”

Pay what you can: Thousands of restaurants open every year. But Everyone at the Table, or EAT, is one of just a handful that aims to reshape how restaurants engage with their community. The Philadelphia restaurant is a pay-what-you-can cafe. Diners are offered a suggested price, but they are not mandated to pay. This allows underprivileged diners, ranging from the homeless, to struggling families, to poor grad students to enjoy a full meal without breaking the bank. Mariana Chilton, a professor of public health at Drexel University and the founder of EAT, told The Washington Post that she strove to create a place where everyone had access to a beautiful and healthy dining experience: “I wanted to make a place where families could come experience some joy.”

A community plots a community plot: DSGN AGNC, a small design agency in Brooklyn, has big plans for South Phoenix, Arizona. The area, which is home to a primarily low- and middle-income population, is a food desert. “There are more liquor stores than grocery stores here,” DSGN AGNC founder Quilian Riano told The Architect’s Newspaper. DSGN AGNC’s newest project, “Spaces Of Opportunity,” will remake an 18-acre plot in the middle of town into a community hub, featuring washing and cleaning stations, segmented plots for farming, a musical venue, an outdoor gym, playgrounds, and art spaces. Work on the project is highly iterative and community-focused: the firm presents a plan, the community adjusts it to their needs, and the designers then change the project to fit the expressed needs.

Mikhail Klimentov

Mikhail Klimentov is a contributor to The Renewal Project.