• 2024 HONOREE
  • Summit

The Lark-Inn

DLR Group, Stantec, CRB, Gensler

Design Team

DLR Group, Stantec, CRB, Gensler

Jonathan Chow

Interior Designer, DLR Group

Susan Orlandi

Interior Designer, DLR Group

Sarang Song

Interior Designer, Stantec

Chu Foxlin

Interior Designer, Stantec

Abigail Jones

Project Manager/ Architect, CRB

Mia Liu

Graphic Designer, Gensler

Zoe Krizner

Graphic Designer, Gensler

About the Project

On any given night in the Bay Area, 38,000 individuals are without a place to call home, which is an increase of 35 percent since 2019. Of that number, 1,100 are young people who face homelessness and the impacts of racism, homophobia, and transphobia. The nonprofit organization Larkin Street Youth Services provides a refuge for the city’s youth and offers support and resources to set their lives on a new path forward. AEC Cares partnered with four design firms to donate their time and resources to renovate one of Larkin Street Youth Services’ emergency overnight shelters, the Lark-Inn. This space provides a temporary home and safe space for Bay Area youths experiencing homelessness.

As a shelter that has not been renovated in many years, with dark interiors, inconsistent lighting levels, and inadequate sleeping quarters, Lark-Inn was not meeting its full potential to aid homeless youth. Through targeted and economical design interventions, the renovation is an investment in the future of everyone that will use the space for years to come. Fresh paint and wall graphics brought in pops of color and movement to stimulate energy in common spaces and invoke calmness and security in sleeping quarters. Durable flooring and casework will stand the test of time as the spaces are used to shelter and nurture. With new lighting, the shelter provides a sense of warmth and comfort. Plants were brought in to boost self-esteem and confidence, while also lessening anxiety. At the end of the day, Lark Inn transformed into an inspiring, refreshing space that is both visually appealing and emotionally uplifting.

The renovation of Larkin Street’s Lark-Inn stands as a testament to the incredible impact that can be achieved through collaborative efforts. AEC Cares partnered with four design firms, sponsors, and volunteers to come together to provide a thoughtful uplift to this safe space for youths in the Bay Area. It was all hands-on deck when the team collaborated over 5 months to design this renovation, then partnered together to physically build/install the upgrades over a 10-hour volunteer build day.

The design process started with coordination using a digital board to share ideas through imagery, texts, and sketches. Three firms tackled the three main spaces of the shelter: 1) Main Entry, 2) Social Space/Cafeteria, and 3) Dormitory, and the fourth firm the wall graphics in all three spaces. Every week for 5 months, calls were set up to ensure design strategies, construction documentation and sponsorship outreach were synchronized. Volunteer contractors also consulted to ensure that the designs could be built by in one day.

To prepare for the transformation, contractors coordinated with Larkin Street Youth to ensure the youths were safely relocated to a new shelter in advance of the install day and complete any required demolition. On event day, a leader from each firm became Project Managers to 20 to 30 volunteers to delegate tasks and bring the design to life. In total, 140 volunteers showed up at Lark-Inn and the upgrades you see are feasible through the commitment of multiple groups coming together to help others.

No renovation of this scale would be possible without the generous support of sponsors. Their commitment and dedication to creating positive change are truly commendable. This transformational project not only provided a physical facelift to the building but also symbolized a renewed sense of hope and resilience for youths experiencing homelessness.

We love how this addresses some critical housing needs. They must have taken a very tight budget and taken it very far. You can do a lot with paint!

General Contractor

DPR Construction

Meg Cosby, Gavin Hornung, Brittney Lerdahl

Whiting-Turner Contracting Company

Damon Ellis, Cara Warren, Paul Byrne, Jose Gonzales

Project Manager + Representative

AEC Cares

Laura Marlow


Derek Guffey, John Royster, Kelsey Erhart, Jennifer Johnson

Extended Partners


Cupertino Electric Inc.

Flooring Installer

Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, Welker Brothers


RB Design and Fabrication Inc.

Toilet Accessories Furnishing

Service Metal Products


Peter Alfred Hess


Furniture Dealer

One Workplace


Steelcase, Teknion, Humanscale, IKEA

Plants + Planters

Habitat Horticulture

Wood Shelves + Brackets

DPR Construction


Cupertino Electric Inc.

Dutch Door

Minton Door


LVT Flooring

Shaw Contract


Sherwin Williams, PPG

Solid Surface


Acoustical Felt Panels


Rubber Base


Sponsors & Volunteers

USG Ceilings


Material Bank

Sika Building Trust


Andersen Windows & Doors

Owens Corning




Oldcastle Building Envelope

AIA Contract Documents

Thomaston Mills

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