Special Needs SRO

Ithaca, New York
Lakeview Health Service

Winner of 2009 AIA Rochester Design Excellence Award

With a population of 100,000, Tompkins County was in need of an alternative residential program for persons with chronic mental illness. The first of its kind in the Ithaca region, this single room occupancy (SRO) residence provides a long-term home for adults with special needs. Located in an established, walkable neighborhood in the City of Ithaca, the program includes 38 individual sleeping rooms, communal, and staff support spaces.

Taking cues from the region's early 20th Century apartment buildings, the 3-story residence is built close to the street, with paired double-hung windows and a material palate of red brick and limestone-hued concrete masonry. The corner entrance tower defines a gateway, serving as a transition between commercial and residential neighborhoods. Its public spaces - the first floor reception and resident lounges above - are stacked at the corner with transparent glazing.

The building's footprint wraps around a southwest facing landscaped courtyard, allowing abundant natural light into interior spaces, while affording pleasant views for residents. The courtyard, removed from the traffic of Third Street, provides a tranquil respite for residents and staff. The building's circulation is simple, allowing easy orientation for residents. Communal spaces are generously sized, with large windows.


The 'heart' of the residence is the centrally-located, light-filled dining area, serving as the main gathering place. Opening directly onto the courtyard, it links the exterior and interior spaces and provides alternative seating options.

The residence is a LEED certified building.