Dorothy Day | Higher Ground

Located near the heart of Minnesota’s capital city of St. Paul, The Catholic Charities Outreach Campus is a new vision for highly mobile populations that is designed to prevent and end homelessness for those most in need. This two-phase project focuses on key components that are currently lacking in American cities: affordable permanent housing and dedicated self-sufficiency services that create true pathways out of poverty and homelessness.


The goals of both phases include provision of a comfortable, safe and beautiful spaces that service a wide variety of needs and desires.  In phase 1, Higher Ground, a smaller courtyard serves the overnight shelter and specialized housing for longer term residents. This gesture extends across the street by a safe pedestrian connection to phase 2, the Dorothy Day Connection Center, designed in collaboration with Cermak Rhoades Architects.  The larger day center courtyard is characterized by a linear garden that highlights seasonal color and change. This frames various seating opportunities and teaching spaces for the client populations. To support the multifaceted function of these spaces, there is a focus on stormwater management and native plantings throughout all phases.  The overall campus is united through shared materials, pedestrian crossings, streetscape character, lighting, and user facilities. 


These strategies come together to create a charismatic, durable and flexible space that can facilitate changing needs over time.  Given that these spaces courtyard receive heavy use from a transient population, the design focuses on the layout and program of the space to function for queuing and provides comfortable and dignified spaces for its users.  Ultimately, the landscape creates an open, comfortable, and visually iconic space where people feel at home.


CLIENT: Catholic Charities


COLLABORATORS: Cermak Rhoades Architects, Pierce Pini and Associates

SIZE: 5 acres