HOK Volunteers Help Transform Old Firehouse Into a New Teen Center for Ferguson
For HOK’s 60th anniversary in 2015, each of the firm’s offices is performing a community service project. As part of this HOK 24 / SIXTY initiative, the St. Louis office completed a project for the Ferguson Youth Initiative.
To help define their vision for the teen outreach center, the Ferguson Youth Advisory Board participated in a design charrette in HOK’s downtown St. Louis studio.
“For our 60th anniversary, we are celebrating how design can enrich communities and make a difference in the world, providing tangible benefits to the communities we serve,” said Angelo Arzano, a principal in HOK’s St. Louis office. “We selected the Ferguson Youth Initiative and another project for nonprofit Youth In Need for our HOK 24 / SIXTY projects because we want to contribute to their efforts to provide a better future for disadvantaged young people in our area.” The projects will engage more than 150 people in HOK’s office.
The Ferguson Youth Initiative is a nonprofit agency that unites the city of Ferguson, Mo.’s teens, officials, residents and educators to find new ways to serve and engage young (aged 13-19) members of the community.
The organization is based in the former Ferguson Firehouse No. 1, next to Ferguson City Hall at 110 Church St., in a two-story space that once housed fire equipment and personnel. As a donated space, the location was not equipped to meet the needs of a growing youth center. Concrete floors and exposed ceilings created acoustical problems, and the original structure lacked the flexibility needed to support various programs.
A team from HOK’s St. Louis office met with representatives from the Ferguson Youth Initiative and its teen advisory board to create a design for a renovated, inviting youth center. Next, over two weekends in October 2015, HOK volunteers worked alongside Ferguson teens and community members to build and fit out the space.
The newly renovated teen center incorporates bright paint colors, new furniture and organic wood against the existing industrial aesthetic to create a welcoming, vibrant environment. Mobile wood-slat partition walls add flexibility and innovative ceiling products improve acoustics. Adjustable computer desks support a new technology center for a drop-in tutoring program that serves up to 50 teens a week. The space also has a stage, a craft area and new signage.
The renovated teen center is now open from 3:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. for teens to drop in and to get access to computers, Wi-Fi, tutoring and a support system – or just to relax.
“The Ferguson Youth Initiative empowers youth to shape our community and this includes shaping our new space,” said Dwayne T. James, board president of the Ferguson Youth Initiative and city councilman in Ferguson. “HOK’s designers were excellent listeners and developed a strong understanding of how we envisioned using the space to advance our mission of helping young people in Ferguson. The depth of HOK’s commitment was impressive.”
Community support for this project was overwhelming. In addition to HOK, 25 local and national organizations contributed materials, products and funding. Contributors included LANDCO Construction, TJ Wies Contracting, Steelcase, Golterman & Sabo, Designtex, Negwer Materials, Painting & Decorating Foundation, Express Scripts, JMC Wood Manufacturing, StoneTree Fabrications Inc., Lighting Associates Inc., Summit Sign & Graphics, Saint Louis Lighting Group, Spectrum Lighting, Herman Miller, USG, Professional Office Environments, Bentley Carpet, Flooring Systems Inc., City of Ferguson, Lawrence Fabric & Metal Structures, Tingle Flooring, Armstrong Flooring, Flooring Systems Inc. and Sherwin-Williams.
The new HOK 24 / SIXTY report illustrates the firm’s commitment to making a difference. View it on Issuu.