Wheeler Kearns Wins Design Award for Chicago Health Center

By HCO Staff

CHICAGO—Designed by Wheeler Kearns Architects, the Howard Brown Health Broadway Youth Center (BYC) will receive a 2023 Healthcare Design Award from the AIA Academy of Architecture for Health (AAH). BYC is one of ten projects recognized by this year’s program, which celebrates cutting-edge designs that help solve aesthetic, civic, urban and social problems while also being functional and sustainable.

Located in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, the BYC serves as a welcoming, inclusive beacon for the community. The new five-story building houses the non-profit’s comprehensive social and healthcare services for Chicago’s LGBTQI+ youth, quadrupling the physical footprint of the organization. Sited on a narrow lot, the 20,000-square-foot program is arranged vertically, and includes a health clinic, pharmacy, cafe, day-time community spaces, and private spaces for counseling, career, and social services.

Wheeler Kearns Architects incorporated Howard Brown Health’s identity and values directly into its brick-and-mortar facade. Since the building is visible from the train platform and the street, the building has multiple public faces. The street façade is a quilt composed of masonry panels in varying hues and textures that wrap around the building, reflecting the plurality and unity of the community it serves. Punched windows at the lower floors allow each clinic space and office to benefit from natural light. Large expanses of windows allow panoramic views from the gathering rooms and ‘drop-in’ spaces on upper floors. At the rear of the building, a video installation projects video artwork reflecting BYC’s mission onto upper story double-height windows at night, easily visible from the adjacent train platform.