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Urban Tech to Unveil Vision Plan for Homeless Assistance Facility

The collaborative planning and design process is two years in the making.

Written by Karin Slyker

High Card Entry Rendering

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Texas Tech University’s College of Architecture Urban Tech Design Studio and Link Ministries will announce a vision plan for a new homeless assistance facility on Friday (April 4) during Lubbock’s First Friday Art Trail.

High Cotton Genesis provides temporary shelter for Lubbock’s homeless population. It is located on the 5-acre site of a former cotton gin east of downtown, and operated by Link Ministries, a faith-based non-profit that works to connect those in need with facilities and programs. Two years ago, director Les Burrus commissioned a design team to propose long-term vision for the future of the facility now widely known as “Tent City.”

“Every day I get at least one call from a potential resident that I have to turn down because we’re at capacity and have a waiting list,” Burrus said. “It’s a good sign that our services are helping people in the community, but it’s also a sign that it’s time to grow.”

High Chapel Rendering

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High Cotton also faces logistical and programmatic challenges coming into its fourth year. The facility also needs a space for residents to cook their own meals, a larger laundry facility, more restrooms and showers, and places to socialize and build community. A chapel is being designed as a core component for not only building the community within Genesis, but also connecting Tent City residents to the Lubbock Community.

Burrus teamed up with the director of Texas Tech University’s Urban Tech Design Studio, David Driskill, to form an advisory group known as the High Cotton Core to lead the design and visioning project. Urban Tech is a place for students to think, draw, design, model and create ideas and information for public exhibition, as a process of civic engagement and exploration.

The collaborative effort began in January 2012 with an information-gathering session attended by many of the organizations serving Lubbock’s homeless population. During the fall of 2012, Lake Flato Architects led a design charrette with the High Cotton community to flesh out a vision for therapeutic facilities serving the local homeless population. This effort, to understand the needs and goals for the Lubbock community, has taken place over the course of two years and is now reaching maturity.

Aerial Rendering

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In the fall of 2013, Link Ministries and the High Cotton Core reached out to HiWorks Architecture, Urbanist Design, and Studio Outside Landscape Architects to produce a conceptual and schematic design for the High Cotton site. The design team arrived in Lubbock in November  for an initial two-day site visit, including a tour of Tent City, led by Burrus and Driskill, and two design charettes with the Link Ministries Board of Directors, held at Urban Tech’s downtown office. In addition to touring the existing facilities and meeting with various stakeholders, they discussed both the tactical and strategic goals of the project as well as how it might be implemented in a series of phases over time.  Hoping to better understand the experience of Tent City residents, one of the architects opted to stay overnight in one of the tents on the site.

After an immensely productive visit to Lubbock, the designers returned to their home cities to begin the process of translating the experience of the site and the words of the charette participants into a combined design vision for the future of High Cotton Genesis.

In the months that followed, the design team developed a program document that described the specific facilities to be created as well as a conceptual design of the facility itself, including renderings of the proposed additions.

The High Cotton Vision Plan will be exhibited during Lubbock’s First Friday Art Trail, 6 – 9 pm, April 4. The High Cotton Vision Plan will be exhibited at the Urban Tech headquarters, located at 1120 Main St.

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