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[Disclaimer: This project is theoretical and was created as my comprehensive (thesis) project at the University of Oregon for my Bachlors of Interior Architecture in 2016]

Grays Harbor Safe Haven

comprehensive project // winter & spring 2016

overview
Project Overview

[Disclaimer: This project is theoretical and was created as my comprehensive (thesis) project at the University of Oregon for my Bachlors of Interior Architecture in 2016]

 

Grays Harbor Safe Haven is an interim housing complex for children in foster care. The main goal of the project is to provide a safe, welcoming, home-like environment for children who have been removed from their homes, while they wait for appropriate placement. The site is located in Aberdeen, Washington, in one of the oldest and the tallest building in Aberdeen, the Becker Building. The program is broken down into 4 categories: housing, living, therapy, and support. Within each category is various programmatic elements that create the overall environment. 

Project Description

Grays Harbor Safe Haven is a housing complex for children in the foster care system waiting to be placed in appropriate homes. Grays Harbor Safe Haven is a new interim housing complex for children of all ages in the foster care system waiting to be placed in appropriate, more permanent homes, with a focus on keeping sibling groups together. Grays Harbor Safe Haven addresses interim housing strategies, stress free environments, therapy and recreation spaces, and room typology and occupancy. Light color, and materials will play a large role  in the planning of space to encourage a sense of safety, and physical and psychological wellbeing. It will provide a safe, stable place for children placed in the foster care system to meet their basic needs. Children that arrive at Grays Harbor Safe Haven have had traumatic experiences ranging from abuse, neglect, abandonment, or substance abuse, etc. which has caused them to be removed from their families. The goal of the housing component of Grays Harbor Safe Haven is to create a sense of permanence, safety, and security. This project addresses housing shortages and emergency placement housing for children in the foster care system, and keeping sibling groups together.

Project Research
project research

As of September 2013 there were an estimated 402,378 children in foster care ("Foster Care Statistics 2013." Child Welfare Information Gateway). In Washington State, there were approximately 10,339 children according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau. Children are placed in foster care for various reasons. Abuse, neglect, abandonment, illness, incarceration, alcohol/substance abuse, and death are among many reasons children are placed in foster care. The average child in foster care is 8 years old and waits for and adoptive family for nearly four years.

existing conditions
Existing Conditions

Site Photos - Context

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Aberdeen is a rough and tumble small town on the coast of Washington located in Grays Harbor County. The population is about 15,000 people with a little over 70,000 in the entire county. There is little to do in Aberdeen, with most people driving 45 minutes to Olympia for recreation activities. Aberdeen’s climate is commonly overcast and wet raining many days out of the year. The town can be described as gloomy due to the overcast weather and general atmosphere of town. Drug and alcohol abuse are high and the unemployment rate at close to 10% compared to 6.3% nationally. Aberdeen historically was a logging town with many mills. In recent times, Aberdeen has become more famous as being the "Birthplace of Grunge," and the hometown of Nirvana members Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic. At one point in time Aberdeen was a thriving town with various activities such of saloons, brothels, and gambling halls around the town. Because of these establishments and the actions associated with, Aberdeen was nicknamed "The Hellhole of the Pacific." There is nothing like Grays Harbor Safe Haven in Aberdeen, which presents the need for such a project.

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Site Maps

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grays harbor .jpg
downtown Site Final.jpg
ABERDEEN ANNOTATED MAP.jpg
ghsh final book updated site-1.jpg

The Becker Building

Becker Building.jpg
Exterior Molding.jpg
Entry Way.jpg

Location: Aberdeen, Washington

Built: 1926

Construction Type: Concrete + Steel + Brick + Terra Cotta

Floors: 7 Floors + Mezzanine + Penthouse

Building Foot Print: 131 ft x 61 ft

Lot Size Sq Ft: 7,800

Building Gross Sq Ft: 51,065

Typical Floor Square Footage: 6,005

Net Square Footage: 36,600

Current Use: Anne Marie’s Café is located on bottom floor on I street, offices on upper floors

 

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It is a “low/medium road” building; it needs a lot of repair on the interior but has a strong exterior presence. The building is rectangular in shape and has seven stories and a mezzanine and penthouse. The south corner of the building has the best views of the mountain and river. From the other sides of the building the view is of the remainder of the town. The Becker Building is concrete and steel construction, with brick and terra cotta on the exterior. It is 7 floors with a mezzanine and penthouse level. The lot size is 7,800 square feet and the building gross square footage is 51,065. This site has a lot of history for this small town. Prior to this building being on this property it was the site of the Weatherwax house, one of the towns first settlers. It was notable for having one of the town’s first running water systems. I was drawn to the Becker Building because it is a prominent fixture in downtown Aberdeen and has been for many years. Growing up in Aberdeen it was something that was always there but never fully occupied or fixed up to its full potential. I choose this building because it is relevant to reflect the ideas of restoring and rebuilding of the children in the foster care system to give them a fighting chance in this rough and tumble area. This building would propose undertaking multi-floor renovations and have a strong interior focus. The strong interior focus is appropriate to enhance the sense of place and security for the children in the foster care system.

programming
Program
Scheme A | Midreview 02.12.16
​"...Tale as old as time..."
 

Goals:

  • Explore the relationship between the historic facades and aspects of the building 

  • Evaluate the views out to nature and the city

  • Historic Vs. Modern

  • Introverted spaces vs. extroverted spaces

  • Connection to the community

  • Tying in history

Scheme A Parti
Scheme A Parti

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Parti
Parti

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"Club House"
"Club House"

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Scheme A Parti
Scheme A Parti

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1/11
Scheme B Parti
Scheme B Parti

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Entry
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Scheme B Parti
Scheme B Parti

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Scheme B | Midreview 02.12.16
​" The Cave of Wonders"

 

Goals:

  • Public Vs. Private

  • Compression and expansion

  • Relationship between communal spaces vs. private individual spaces

  • Stacking and connecting and shifting of private spaces and blocks of program

  • Places to have refuge vs. places to be in a communal environment

  • Ideas of transparency, opacity, and translucency 

design process
Scheme C | Midreview 02.12.16
​" Part of Your World"
 

GOALS: 

  • Bringing community in and getting th children out in the community

  • Have a place that is inconspicuous, but also known at the same time

  • Bring in the community but maintain the privacy of the children. 

  • Seen + Unseen

  • Community outreach

Scheme C Parti
Scheme C Parti

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Entry
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Scheme C Parti
Scheme C Parti

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Grays Harbor Safe Haven is located in downtown Aberdeen, Washington in the Becker Building. This project scope will include partial of the ground floor, a new construction mezzanine level, the fourth floor through the seventh floor and the penthouse level. The second and third level will not be used due to project scope constraints of size but it is proposed that the tenants on the second and third level would be additional support spaces or tenants to Grays Harbor Safe Haven. This particular project will not have any exterior interventions due to the inconspicuous nature of the project and the safety of the children. The project will be exclusively interior interventions.

Project Goal:

Grays Harbor Safe Haven is a housing complex for children in the foster care system waiting to be placed in appropriate homes.is a new interim housing complex for children of all ages in the foster care system waiting to be placed in appropriate, more permanent homes, with a focus on keeping sibling groups together. The purpose of the project is to have a place for children to stay, who have just been removed from their home for various reasons of abuse, neglect, abandonment, parental incarceration, alcohol/substance abuse etc. while they wait for more permanent, appropriate placement. It should provide a safe, stable place for children placed in the foster care system to meet their basic needs. Grays Harbor Safe Haven addresses interim housing strategies, low stress and stress free environments, therapy and recreation spaces, and room typology and occupancy. The selection of materials, color, and lighting is critical to the planning of space to encourage a sense of safety, and physical and psychological wellbeing.

 

There is a wide range of ages that inhabit Grays Harbor Safe Haven. Infants, toddlers, children, and teens in placed in foster care waiting for a more permanent placement all live at Grays Harbor Safe Haven. They will come to Grays Harbor Safe Haven after they have been removed from their current situation that has been deemed unfit according to Child Protective Services. Children that arrive at Grays Harbor Safe Haven have had traumatic experiences ranging from abuse, neglect, abandonment, or substance abuse, etc. which has caused them to be removed from their families. The infants, children, and teens at Grays Harbor Safe Haven need a safe, welcoming, home like environment in their time of need and temporary situation. Live in social workers will facilitate and meet the needs of the children at Grays Harbor Safe Haven. They will have rotating shifts to avoid the common “burn out” that social workers experience. They need spaces that provide separation and recharging opportunities during breaks. Volunteers will also help Grays Harbor Safe Haven facilities run. They will assist with the babies and toddler, play games with the kids, help with homework, and also help with overall maintenance of the facility. Gathering inventory of what the needs are for the kids currently in placement and organizing the storage area where all the supplies for the children are kept are also places where the volunteers help. Counselors, administrators, and medical staff also have a place at Grays Harbor Safe Haven.

 

Design Issues and Solutions:

The social issues of housing shortage for foster care, the need to keep sibling groups together and the importance of creating a sense of place and security in a temporary situation begin to introduce design issues with my project, Grays Harbor Safe Haven, located in the Becker Building in Aberdeen, Washington. With these social issues that are prominent within the foster care system, sense of self, object constancy, loss, and mental health are all affected in one way or another. My main investigations address these issues through looking at housing strategies for temporary living, stress free and low stimuli environments, therapy and recreation spaces, room typology, and furniture strategies. The main design issues revolve around ways to simulate “home” in a temporary situation, how light, color, and materiality can affect children who have experienced trauma, ways to promote individuality in a communal space, and the existing building conditions.

 

Stress Free Environments for Temporary Housing

  • Issues:

    • Group housing environments need to have stress free and low stimuli spaces to minimize and eliminate any additional trauma for the children that reside at Grays Harbor Safe Haven. There needs to be spaces that provide reflective, individual spaces, quiet areas, and interactive spaces between other children and adults along with the simulation of “home”.

  • Solutions:

    • The use of color, material, lighting, and spatial organization contribute to the stress free and low stimuli spaces that are needed in a temporary group-housing environment for children who have experienced trauma. This can be done through not over saturated colors in addition to a neutral color palette. The ideas and philosophies of color psychology need to be considered to appropriately choose colors based on meaning and implications.

    • Reflective, individual, and quiet areas can be achieved through architectural interventions, such as lower ceilings, thick walls with carved out spaces, acoustic materials, furnishing specifications, etc. 

    • The simulation of home can be address through scale of rooms, material and furnishing selections, and color.

 

Therapy and Recreation Spaces

  • Issues:

    • Therapy and recreation spaces need to address activity performance and functionality between residential space and separate therapy spaces dedicated to outpatient and inpatient care. Therapy and recreation spaces also need to address wayfinding within the space to delineate different zones. The therapy and recreational spaces need to be welcoming and comforting for children of various ages and the psychological, behavioral, and physical wellbeing of children who have experienced trauma needs to be addressed through the use of light, color, materials, and spatial organization.

    • The residential recreation spaces need to provide a therapeutic quality to encourage positive behavioral and psychological wellbeing for the children, along with creating communal and individual reflective and interactive spaces. There needs to be a sense of security and safety for the children. Recreation spaces need to be addressed for various ages and approached based on age.

  • Solutions:

    • The use of color, material, lighting, and spatial organization contribute to the stress free and low stimuli spaces, welcoming, comforting, calming spaces, and wayfinding.

 

Room Typology and Occupancy

  • Issues:

    • The various rooms need to address stress free environments and low stimuli. They also are dependent on age group and age appropriateness and gender. They need to provide a place for sibling groups to stay together if chosen or separate but in the same facility. The various age groups need to be addressed in different room types. The overall environment needs to provide a calming, safe, and welcoming environment with a sense of control. The room typologies need to address furniture that is flexible and creates a sense of “home”, empowerment, and control of ones environment.

  • Solutions:

    • The use of color, material, lighting, and spatial organization contribute to the stress free and low stimuli spaces, the use of a neutral color palette with subtle accent colors provide a sense of home.

    • The creation of different room typologies creates environments for different children with different needs, such as nurseries, tiny tot rooms and double rooms.

    • The use of easily movable and flexible furniture provides a sense of control and empowerment.

 

Building Conditions

  • Issues:

    • The Becker Building, where Grays Harbor Safe Haven is located, has low ceilings which creates an obstacle for the addition of HVAC, open volumetric spaces, and the creation of a cave-like atmosphere. The historical quality of the building also provides a challenge due to the nature of the structure and the need for strictly interior interventions.

  • Solutions:

    • When adding interior partitions pay attention to the bay system that is established by the buildings structure and exterior façade

    • Create open to below spaces within the structure to maintain the beam and girder structure.

 

 

Design Approach:

Grays Harbor Safe Haven occupies partial of the ground floor, new construction mezzanine, the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and penthouse level on the Becker Building in Aberdeen, Washington. The ground floor and mezzanine are a communal space for the occupants of Grays Harbor Safe Haven where they can bring their friends to hang out after school and on weekends. The fourth floor is the support floor for Grays Harbor Safe Haven. It provides the initial needs for the children after they are removed from their home, such as, basic medical check up, bathing and getting cleaned up, new clothes and supplies, and therapy spaces. There are also administrative program elements on the fourth floor. The fifth through seventh floor there are living units for the children, employees, and volunteers. Each floor is divided by age group but has a communal living space flanked by living quarters on either side. The room typologies address various age groups and sibling settings. The repetition between the layout of the living floors and consistent entry sequence address the need for object constancy for these children and introduce other ideas to create a safe and consistent place for them.

 

The sleeping quarters are divided by age and separated by the living area and administrative core, or command center. The communal space is located in the center of the building, flanked by sleeping quarters on either side. On each floor the older children’s rooms are located toward the active main street front, while the younger kids are located toward the calmer alley. This is similar to one of my precedents, The Children’s Home of the Future, located in Denmark. The ground floor and the mezzanine level are a public space for the children of Grays Harbor Safe Haven and their friends and other children of the community to have a safe place to hang out and socialize. The social active spaces, where daylight is ideal, are located on the street front of the building, whereas the social spaces that do not require daylight are located on the parti wall. The volumetric connection between the ground floor and the mezzanine level is a straight stair located near the double height space that connects to the mezzanine level. The fourth floor is the support space and initial check in for the children that enter Grays Harbor Safe Haven. The fifth, sixth, and seventh floor are the main living and sleeping spaces. There is a volumetric connection between the fourth and fifth floor with a connecting stair and a visual connection between the fifth and sixth floor with an open to below space with integrated refuge nooks between the living spaces. The kitchen and dining area are located on the penthouse level with direct connection to a roof garden and seating area.

 

Site:

Grays Harbor Safe Haven is located in downtown Aberdeen, Washington in the Becker Building. The south corner of the building has the best views of the mountain and river. From the other sides of the building the view is of the remainder of the town. The Becker Building is concrete and steel construction, with brick and terra cotta on the exterior. It is 7 floors with a mezzanine and penthouse level. This project scope will include partial of the ground floor, a new construction mezzanine level, the fourth floor through the seventh floor and the penthouse level. The second and third level will not be used due to project scope constraints of size but it is proposed that the tenants on the second and third level would be additional support spaces or tenants to Grays Harbor Safe Haven. This particular project will not have any exterior interventions due to the inconspicuous nature of the project and the safety of the children. The project will be exclusively interior interventions.

Design Concept:

            The design concept for Grays Harbor Safe Haven revolves around creating a friendly, safe, welcoming environment for children of all ages, with a sophisticated but child friendly environment. The design focuses on creating the sense of “home” in a temporary situation with the use of color, material, furniture, and communal and individual spaces for the children. Each age group has a space that is specific to them and promotes curiosity, play, interaction, and individualism.

 

Materiality:

The initial idea for the material palette includes a conservative overall feel with the majority of the walls, flooring, and ceiling having a neutral tone. The accent colors will provide interests to the spaces. The color palette is the same for all the spaces with varying tones and saturation depending on the spaces. The living spaces have a softer saturation of color than the ground floor community space. The sustainability issues of this project focuses on material and furniture selection. Creating a healthy environment physically and psychologically is the most important aspect of this project in reference to sustainability. The material and furniture selection has a durability and longevity to it to provide a lasting design that does not need to be updated and replaced often, with the use of upholsteries and durable materials that meet basic sustainability standards in reference to recycled content and off gassing and VOC’s of the material.

 

Program:

Art Corner, Bathrooms, Clothing Closet, Command Center, Computer Lab, Dining Hall, Double Room, Employee/Volunteer, Game Room, Group Room, Homework Corner, Kitchen, Laundry, Living Rooms, Medical Facility, Movie Rooms, Music Room, Nursery, Office, Quad Room, Quiet Room, Reception, Refuge Nooks, Sibling Suites, Staff Room, Storage, Tiny Tots Room, Visitation Room

technical design
design inspiration
precedents/case studies
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