Statistics show that young offenders are highly likely to be rearrested within a few years of their first offence. Homeboy Industries is changing this by enabling ex-gang members in Los Angeles to learn skills that will help them find employment, offering this historically uncared for group of people an alternative path in life.
Homeboy estimates that 80% of its work is focused on job attainment, and the remaining 20% on providing related support services. This approach has proved a tried-and-true method of keeping clients out of gangs and integrated into society, and the organisation has been directly recognised by President Obama several times in the last 5 years.
Last year, Homeboy Industries purchased a plot of land and buildings under renovation near downtown Los Angeles, with the long term objective of creating a new campus that will house their full range of services. Working alongside Gensler architects, our involvement with this project initially focused on transforming an outdated building into The Annex – a welcoming and functional short term space for use while the wider complex is designed and completed.
Built in 1905, the existing two-storey building required significant improvement, not least the addition of ADA compliant stairwells, and an efficient HVAC system and plumbing for the restroom and kitchenette. A further challenge came in completing the required work within a miniscule budget, as Homeboy needed to save money to fund the larger work ahead.
Our engineers provided both structural and services design for The Annex. To keep the work within budget, we helped Gensler to scale back their proposed structural interventions, and determined that much of the existing HVAC system could be maintained and modified to meet new requirements. We also offered guidance on incorporating sustainable design decisions wherever possible – from natural ventilation to material use and reuse – to deliver a cost effective temporary space for Homeboy.
By keeping structural interventions to a minimum, we were able to avoid bringing the whole building up to current seismic codes – which would have been a waste of time and money as it approached the end of its 100 year life. With our help, Homeboy has gained several thousand square feet of additional office and classroom space so that they can continue to serve their ever-growing clientele while the rest of the campus is developed. We are continuing to work with them throughout this wider design phase, which is ongoing.
Services and approach
When we integrate our specialist teams around an approach, the benefits to the client multiply