Edwards Community Center
2014 AIA / SWO Merit Award
2013 AIA / SWO Colleagues Choice Award
The Edwards Center is an Aloha, Oregon-based nonprofit committed to “erasing the lines between the abled and the disabled.”
The Edwards Community Center building is an extensive renovation and expansion that provides 11,000 sf of social, classroom, gathering and office space. The renovation transformed the original dark, inward-looking building, used recycled brick and roof tile, and introduced contemporary Northwest forms to make a welcoming community gathering place.
Erasing the Lines Between the Abled and Disabled
The Edwards Center gives people with disabilities the chance to live and work as other people do—in non-institutionalized settings. Dr. Jean Edwards, along with several families of children shut out of the public school system because of their disabilities, founded the Edwards Center in 1972.
Together they launched one of the nation’s first non-profit organizations dedicated to the independence and dignity of people with autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, epilepsy, and other debilitating conditions.
The Aloha Project takes an innovative approach to housing and community that re-thinks the typical services available. Instead of serving only the Edwards Center clients, the new community center provides a hub for “reverse integration.” Neighbors, the community, and clients can come enjoy the cafe and community garden, join in on a yoga class, or have lunch.
The extensive renovation and targeted additions transformed the dark and inward day-program building into an open, light-filled set of rooms for classes, meals, music, and wellness. A new entry, with generous cover and automatic doors, extends hospitality while connecting through the building to a south-facing patio. Staff and specialized support spaces are nearby, but do not define the character of the Center. Rooms are varied in character and finish to offer options and accommodate difference.
The second phase of the project is the development of an adjacent pocket neighborhood with innovative family housing. The design reaffirms the organization’s values by creating an integrated neighborhood that provides choice, independence and a sense of community.