Architecture & Interior Design

Second Avenue Commons

Second Avenue Commons, provides sanctuary, support, and resources for people experiencing homelessness in downtown Pittsburgh. The facility enables individuals greater self-sufficiency on their path to a safe and secure quality of life. The design is the result of an unprecedented collaboration among stakeholders representing more than a dozen entities including local healthcare, government, public safety, social services, NGO, and professional services (design & construction) organizations.

Project Team

Project Cares Pittsburgh Nonprofit
Owner's Representative
Pittsburgh Mercy
PJ Dick
Teaming Partners
McKim & Creed
KAG Engineering
Ceeva, Inc.
J. Frank Studios
The Gateway Engineers
Interior Design
Construction Administration
Completion Date
October 2022
Project Size
42,000 SF
Project Cost
$22 Million

The goal of this project, initially called Project Cares in the planning stage, was to establish consensus from a broad spectrum of stakeholders for a year-round, “low barrier” shelter with wrap-around services to address the myriad and complex issues confronting people experiencing homelessness. The space needs to enable greater self-sufficiency on an individual’s path to a safe and secure quality of life while ultimately reducing chronic homelessness in Pittsburgh.   

DLA+ facilitated an intensive design process using a “workshop” format to coordinate the input of stakeholders with consensus around a vision for a successful project. Among the drivers of design and the delivery of services are dignity, personal control, security and privacy, harm reduction, flexibility, trauma-informed care and design and flexibility. The shelter's functions and services include the following key components:

  • Intake: customary coordinated entry functions to accept clients.
  • Client Services: including Case Management to assess the needs and navigate to appropriate resources, and Supportive Services as a small clinic for health and mental health consultation.
  • Drop-in Center: offering personally hygiene and client services to individuals experiencing homelessness but who are not staying at the facility.
  • Congregate Sleeping & Hygiene Center: 92 beds in group sleeping rooms with appropriate personal hygiene facilities, with space for an additional 33 beds in the winter.
  • Community Space and Amenities: commons area including lounges, a library and computer room, lounges, kitchen, dining and outdoor space.
  • SRO’s:  42 single room occupancy units to facilitate transition to independent housing.

These accommodations resulted in a facility of approximately 42,000 gross square feet assembled on the Second Avenue site in Downtown Pittsburgh.

For more detail on what into the planning, design and construction of this public-private partnership, read the Viewpoints article: https://www.dlaplus.com/pages/introducing-second-avenue-commons

*Interior photos copyright Denmarsh Photography Inc. / DLA+ Architecture & Interior Design; Exterior photo copyright DLA+ Architecture & Interior Design