The Night Ministry | Wheeler Kearns Architects

SAVE The Night Ministry | Wheeler Kearns Architects

Project Name: The Night Ministry

Practice: Wheeler Kearns Architects

Firm Location: Chicago

Completion year: 2020

Gross Built up Area: 1950 sqm

Project Location: Chicago, IL

Design Team: Larry Kearns, Joy Meek & Erica Ulin

Clients: The Night Ministry

Engineering: Nesko Electric Company

Structural Consultants: GRAEF

Landscape Consultants: McKay Landscape Architects

MEP Consultants: Martin Petersen Company, Inc

Contractors: Bulley & Andrews

Photo Credits: Kendall McCaugherty, Hall + Merrick Photographers

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Project Description

(“Text as submitted by architect”)

Designed for refuge and recovery, The Night Ministry’s new home provides an oasis for security, independence, and safety for young adults facing adversity. The new headquarters is located in the “Mural Building” – a prominent manufacturing building known for its large murals that cover the North, East, and South Elevations along a busy Chicago expressway.

Three floors of the heavy-timber building are renovated to include “The Crib” – an overnight shelter for young adults ages 18-24, a serving kitchen and dining space, administrative offices, meeting rooms, and multi-purpose programming space for social services, job assistance, and social activities. Located on the north side of the building, a former loading dock with a large awning above is transformed into an accessible entrance, sheltered and protected from the busy street. Here and throughout, glass doors and windows are used as critical elements to build trust,allowing guests to glimpse inside before entering, and further alleviating those feelings of stress and helplessness that may be endemic to their situations. Inside The Crib, which operates on the first floor, corridor space is reduced to increase openness, visibility, and monitoring, thus promoting feelings of emotional and physical safety.

Meeting rooms and private offices face the street and park, filtering natural light through interior clerestory windows into the central multipurpose/dining room. Quieter spaces, such as the sleeping room, showers, and restrooms, are positioned near the back to maximize privacy. A small glass-enclosed workspace is designed for a staff member to easily monitor both the sleeping hall and dining area in a non-intrusive way.


The second and third floors are the new administrative headquarters for The Night Ministry, where employees work together in open offices connected by a new central communicating stair. For the first time since its founding, all Night Ministry employees and volunteers can operate and meet under one roof, significantly improving organizational culture, connection, and quality of their services. Off-site teams such as the health outreach and street medicine teams now have space to touch-down and connect with other staff. Support spaces are designed to provide varying levels of privacy and gathering, including individual phone booths, small meeting rooms, workrooms and a large conference room that can hold all-staff and full board meetings.

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