From the AIA:
Mercy Housing at Johnson Center “shows social responsibility, simplicity and elegance” the jury commented about this former hospital building that was renovated and expanded to establish Milwaukee’s first fully supportive housing facility. Vacated ten years ago, the 1920s structure on the city’s near south side was chosen as a catalyst to create a permanent solution for the chronically homeless. The facility now contains 91 studio apartments plus leased spaces for supportive services, such as basic medical, career counseling, drug and alcohol counseling, as well as a technology lab and community center. To meet the owner’s objectives, the architect provided a design solution that is indistinguishable from a market-rate development and also blends a modern addition that features high sustainability and universal accessibility with an existing structure, which had few of those characteristics. The project includes passive sustainable strategies, including extensive daylighting and active energy-saving systems. An array of roof-top solar panels augments the building’s hot water supply. In the existing building, original materials like terrazzo flooring, brass handrails and exterior lighting fixtures have been reused and hazardous materials were removed. Since its opening, the project has helped to reduce Milwaukee County’s homeless rate.
Jury Comment: “This project shows that the social responsibility to provide housing for diverse populations in our communities can be done with simplicity, elegance and confidence. The new building makes sense with the existing renovated building. The architect accepted the original context and extended, edited and slightly rearranged it so that, in the end, it is a very comfortable progressive vernacular that is almost seamless. We respect this project for the reality of social justice and the architect as civic citizen.”
For more information, please visit: http://aiaw.org/media/DA2012pr.shtml