Utah Style and Design

Photo Friday: Safe Shelter

July 26, 2019

There aren’t too many conversations these days that don’t eventually turn to the problems of affordable housing and the growing number of people without homes and on the streets. Shortly, a new center opens in Salt Lake to offer more than just safe emergency housing for 200 women. The Geraldine E. King Women’s Resource Center, operated by Volunteers of America, will safely house the women, and provide meals, clothing, hygiene (in the form of products, showers and laundry facilities), and help for changing their circumstances with resources within the center for finding work, job training, and connecting to services, support, and healthcare.

The staff was just moving in furniture and conducting trainings when I made the photographs in anticipation of soon opening the doors for clients. From the front entrance is a reception area for intake. AJC Architects designed the center to meet a variety of goals including keeping the clients safe and to intuitively guide people through the facility with a minimum of signage. Just behind the intake desk is the mailroom. Clients have a permanent address for signing up for benefits, applying for jobs and staying connected. Offices to the right can monitor activities and support intake. 

For staff and clients with bicycles, there is a secure storage area visible from the intake desks. In this area and throughout the center, I was struck by the attractive, highly durable and easily cleaned building materials selected by AJC Architects and installed by the project contractor, Okland Construction. 

Versus the type of shelters that house people at night and release them with all their possessions during the day to find food elsewhere, the Geraldine E. King Women’s Resource Center has an in-house dining room and kitchen. A special room with bins provides for the safe storage of belongings. 

Just off the cafeteria is an enclosed outdoor patio with plantings, places to sit, and turf for service animals. Provisions allow for service animals.

From this view, one can see how the building encloses the courtyard on three sides with fencing along the fourth. The wing from where the camera looks out is the service providers’ area. There is a space for a mobile clinic to provide onsite care, and work spaces for professionals to come to the center for outreach services that can get women on their feet again and into more permanent housing. 

The stairway shows an example of the simple effective signage and the perforated metal that allows for maintaining staff’s visual connection to interactions.

The upstairs lounge space reminds me a little of a student union: a place to gather and chat. At the end of the hallway is one of many classrooms for training, including one with computers. 

 

Seeing this facility gave me hope that this comprehensive approach to meeting so many needs in one place might truly make a big difference. I was struck by how uplifting the building is both externally as an attractive addition to the streetscape and internally through the scale, views, and the warmth provided by wood and the vibrant green accent. I was also heartened to learn that this center is one of three that will open this summer. I will share images of the other two soon.

 

Want to see more of Scot’s galleries? Browse Photo Friday here. 

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Scot Zimmerman
Architectural photographer Scot Zimmerman has been photographing exteriors and interiors of homes, and commercial and public buildings across the United States for over 37 years. He is the principal photographer of eight books; over 40 periodicals have featured his work; and 11 museums have exhibited his photos. He’s fond of adventuring in the Southern Utah desert. Follow his work on Instagram: @scot.zimmerman

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