A $1.2-million renovation program allowed the Minneapolis-based YouthLink Youth Opportunity Center to consolidate health care, housing, crisis stabilization and employment assistance for homeless and marginalized youths into its existing facility.

Photo Courtesy of AECOM
YouthLink houses a full array of services, including a health clinic, education and employment center, crisis stabilization center and housing support.

The newly renovated YouthLink houses a full array of services, including a health clinic, education and employment center, crisis stabilization center, dining area, housing support, clothing bank, computer labs, laundry facilities, restrooms with showers and an art studio and gallery.

The project's origins were modest, beginning with a weekend volunteer design session involving architects, interior designers and design students. Minnesota's Hennepin County ultimately funded the project costs, with the construction department of Minneapolis-based retailer Target Corp. providing construction management and owner site representation on a pro-bono basis.

Despite a modest budget, the project team incorporated cherry wood and other quality materials into the project in order to provide a warm, welcoming environment for homeless youth, many of whom are well acquainted with the cold, institutional feel of most social-service organizations.

Because the facility was occupied during construction, the general contractor sequenced renovations in a manner that allowed operations to continue during the eight-month project, despite the facility's tight 15,000-sq-ft footprint. The approach required breaking the project into six distinct phases, with a contracted moving crew relocating programs, activities, staff and youth to designated areas of the two-story, 30,000-sq-ft building.

To reduce operation costs, the project team specified daylight-responsive dimming for all fixtures within 15 feet of windows and skylights; new windows, window wells and skylights to increase natural daylighting; and reconfiguration of ductwork to achieve more efficient distribution.

The design embodies the premise and mission of YouthLink: to create meaningful connections between youth and the community.

Key Players

Developer/Owner: YouthLink Youth Opportunity Center, Minneapolis

GC: MP Johnson Construction Inc.. Minneapolis

CM: Target Corp. Construction Services, Minneapolis

Architect: AECOM, Minneapolis

Structural Engineer: AECOM, Minneapolis

M/E/P Engineer: Modern Heating and Air Conditioning, Minneapolis

Submitted by: AECOM

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