Dane County Day Resource Center
Architect: Dorschner|Associates, Inc.
Owner: Dane County
Contractor: J.H. Findorff & Son Inc.
The Beacon provides comprehensive access to resources for individuals experiencing homelessness in a purpose‐built welcoming environment.
Dane County worked with project partners for years to find a suitable location for a Day Resource Center based on desired criteria including close proximity to downtown Madison, transportation options, other resources for individuals who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, and employment opportunities. Dane County purchased and renovated the former Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce building with services actively managed by the operator, Catholic Charities. The project’s funding partners ‐ The County, City of Madison, United Way of Dane County and Catholic Charities are committed to contributing to the annual operating budget.
The project incorporated significant public input and trauma informed building design principles to support patrons, Catholic Charities staff and volunteers.
The existing building configuration along east Washington Avenue is bound at zero lot line on three sides. An asphalt parking lot accessed from east Main Street was enclosed creating a thoughtful courtyard to provide outdoor program space and an accessible pedestrian and vehicular entry sequence. While the footprint of the two story office building was maintained, the removal of suspended acoustic ceiling tile ceilings to expose structure significantly expanded the volume of the space. Existing concrete floors were exposed and burnished. Access to daylight, sensitivity to acoustics and the use of natural materials interwoven with a landscaped entrance sequence contribute to the restorative environment.
The renovation dramatically transformed the building with broad windows, high ceilings and colorful finishes giving an airy, sunlit, modern feel.
Services offered on‐site at the Center cover two overarching areas – basic needs (showers, laundry service, and respite from the elements) and connections to on‐site resources (case management, housing search assistance, employment and training).
Most basic needs services are accommodated on the first floor of the building with an area designated for families including an outdoor family courtyard.
The second floor of the building houses on‐site resource services including a Computer Lab, Flexible Resource Space, Employment and Training Space, Case Management, Coordinated Entry and Housing Navigation. Catholic Charities works with Dane County, the City of Madison, the United Way, and the agencies that offer these services to make them available to patrons on‐site at the Center.