Emergency preparedness along the Texas Gulf Coast requires facilities inland where those displaced by disasters and threats can find refuge. With this foresight, The Salvation Army (“The Army”) commissioned Turner Duran Architects – a Houston commercial architect with prolific experience working alongside non-profits - to design and oversee the construction of a new 15,758 square foot emergency homeless shelter in Conroe, Texas. The facility houses a total of 129-beds with separate and secure wings for men, women and families. Each wing contains separate locker rooms with showers, laundry facilities, lounge spaces and outdoor courtyards. The common areas include a large gathering space, cafeteria and commercial kitchen, as well as administrative space. 

The Army required the full-service facility to have at least 68-beds in the men’s dorm, 48-beds in the women’s dorm and 4 family suites. When individuals come to the shelter they receive complimentary hot meals, bedding and toiletries for the first seven days of residence, as well as access to an on-site case manager. In addition to serving the homeless, the shelter was designed to expand the organization’s educational programs and provide vocational services to those using the facilities. 

Tasked with creating the only shelter in Montgomery County with overnight lodging for homeless men, women and families, the overall design aesthetic projected to the community was based on two criteria:

          1.     The fact that many of the users of the new facility have lost their homes, are living on the street and are in immediate need.
          2.     The facility is located in a residential area of Conroe. 

Based on these key motivators the design intent was to break down the massiveness of the facility by creating a residential community within the structure through the use of residential forms and materials, aesthetically tying the new building to the balance of the neighborhood. 

Furthermore, the facility provided hurricane relief during the wake of Hurricane Harvey by housing individuals that were displaced by the storm. The Army was determined not to turn anyone away, and at the height of Hurricane Harvey the facility provided shelter to 125 homeless and displaced evacuees. Many of these evacuees had damaged homes and no place to go. During a ten day time frame three meals a day were served to an average of 200 individuals, including the homeless, evacuees and residents from the neighborhood who did not have access to food. 

Designed to connote warmth and welcome to those in immediate need and distress, the emergency shelter projects the ideals of The Army and is changing lives in the great county of Montgomery.