Architects come together to renovate Houston treatment center
To help with recovery from 2017's catastrophic Hurricane Harvey, design and AEC professionals gathered to refurbish a Houston hostel for women and children.
The Santa Maria Hostel in Houston is one of Texas’ largest treatment centers, serving over 4,640 women and children in 2017 for addictions, homelessness, incarceration, abuse, and other traumas. It was also the focus of AEC Cares’ projectHouston, a yearly "blitz build" that brings together nearly 100 industry volunteers to fix up a structure of significant importance to the local community.
Typically held in tandem with AIA’s Conference on Architecture, this year’s gathering took place in Houston to support the communities devastated by Hurricane Harvey. Organized by ConstructConnect and co-presented by AIA and Hanley Wood, the 2018 event focused on improvements to the Santa Maria’s Jacquelyn House.
This year’s renovations included new furniture, paint, flooring, and lighting for the two group counseling rooms, along with new chairs, paint, and flooring for the dining room. There were also significant updates to the house’s outdoor areas, including new playground equipment, a freshly planted garden, and replacements for existing outdoor furniture.
As always, AEC Cares' yearly project is only as strong as its donors. With the generous help of donors like USG, YKK AP America, On Center, Andersen Windows, and others, the volunteer team was able to provide approximately $325,000 worth of much-needed renovations.
"ConstructConnect, partnering with AIA and Hanley Wood, is proud of the contribution that AEC Cares made at the Santa Maria women’s shelter," said Laura Marlow, executive director of AEC Cares and vice president of strategic partnerships at ConstructConnect. "As these women recover from addiction, trafficking, and other trauma, Santa Maria becomes their home. We’re thrilled that, through the teamwork of an amazing pro bono design team, 150-plus volunteers, and generous sponsors, we were able to create more beautiful, functional spaces."
During lunch, speakers from the Houston area thanked all the architects and designers who donated their time, energy, materials, or money to the project. Suzanne Dissette, regional manager at long-time sponsor USG, spoke about the importance of creating a brighter, more welcoming space for people experiencing hardships.
Mike Waldinger, Hon. AIA, the executive vice president of AIA Illinois, also illustrated the importance of such a large gathering in continuing the recovery from last year's hurricane.
"Natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey leave evidence of their destruction on buildings," he said. "What isn’t so visible are the struggles people face wrestling with their own perfect storm. For organizations like Santa Maria Hostel who help their neighbors find refuge, a strong place of shelter is an essential part of the road back. The AIA Houston design community stepped up in a big way to help a heroic community partner and those in their care to rebuild and recover."
For more on AEC Cares, or to get involved with future projects, visit aeccares.com.