Photo of CCC Blackburn Center
Photo of CCC Blackburn Center
Photo of CCC Blackburn Center
Photo of CCC Blackburn Center
Photo of CCC Blackburn Center

CCC Blackburn Center

A Home For Healing

Home—safe, loving, sheltered—is intrinsically connected to our overall health and well-being. From the moment Central City Concern’s revolutionary Blackburn Center opened, Portland’s most vulnerable had a new, safe home to reclaim their lives. Using “home” as our guiding principle, we designed Blackburn Center to integrate both modern housing and in-house clinical services under one roof. It is one of only five centers in North America to combine healthcare, pharmaceutical services, retail, and supportive and palliative care housing for people experiencing homelessness. Each level mirrors a person's pathway to healing—from clinical treatment at the ground floor to independent living at the top floors—and supports every stage of recovery. Blackburn Center gives about 3,000 patients per year access to employment services, housing placement, and complementary clinic services. AIA awarded Blackburn Center the 2018 AIA/AAH Healthcare Design Award, recognizing our contributions to one of the best healthcare centers in the nation.

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Portland, Oregon
COMPLETED IN 2019
  • 151 units
  • 6 stories
  • 112,333 sq. ft.
MARKET

Healthcare

DISCIPLINES

Architecture , Interiors , Planning

PROJECT TYPE

Behavioral Health , Ambulatory Care , Affordable Housing

PROJECT CONTACT

Architecture: Mariah Kiersey

Interiors: Alissa Brandt

Planning: Will Grimm

healthcare@ankrommoisan.com


Architecture Story

Comfort, Community, and Safety

A highly successful and, dare I say, architecturally brilliant and beautifully built facility. -Ted Wheeler, Portland Mayor Central City Concern, a local nonprofit founded in 1979, serves adults and families in the Portland area experiencing homelessness, poverty, and addiction. Embodying this mission, Blackburn Center not only gives people a chance for housing, healing, employment, it gives residents and patients the same comforts others experience daily. Our vision for Blackburn Center: Help people heal through comfort, community, and safety. Through home. The gable, which almost every child recognizes as “home,” became our design principle, reflected in Blackburn Center’s instantly recognizable form. The gable is far more than an aesthetic decision, though: Blackburn Center closes the gap faced by most supportive housing projects, where housing is located blocks or miles apart from mental and physical health services—making consistent healing inaccessible for residents. Our design integrates housing and healing under a single gabled roof. Blackburn Center’s layout reflects patients’ journeys to healing. The ground floor is a commons area for check-in, registration, and services, including a pharmacy and teaching kitchen. Level Two is the main clinic, serving the entire housing program and close to fragile patients on Level Three. Levels Four and Five are single-room occupancy (SRO) with shared services and facilities. Apartments on Level Six hold permanent housing, supporting people nearly ready to live on their own. Even the climate response system focuses on health. Interior modules have been separated, creating open spaces for light and air. Exterior landscapes are easy to reach for therapy and meditation. Solar panels and solar shades offsets energy use to reduce CCC’s utility bills. Slot windows maximize light. Finally, Blackburn Center is on the path to Earth Advantage Platinum certification. It incorporates resiliency and green building principles to provide a healthy environment for its occupants.

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Interior Story

Safer Spaces

"[Blackburn Center] is a testament to the dignity and potential of each person we serve, with an elegant and elevating environment to prove it." -Dr. Rachel Solotaroff, CCC president and CEO Because home is intrinsically connected to a person’s overall health and well-being, every space supports Blackburn Center’s dual functions of housing and healthcare. Each housing area holds single-occupancy rooms with shared common spaces, organized into “neighborhood pods.” These pods emphasize stability, comfort, and community while functionally adapting to each person's different needs. Given the often delicate states of residents and patients, we divided Blackburn Center into four modules and established secure, clearly delineated entry points: for the main entry, for dedicated transitional housing intake, and for ambulance staging with direct respite entry. Balancing the needs of the front desk, clinic staff, and patients, the main lobby also includes a clean-up room where patients can shower. A private space lets staff greet and take in new clients entering directly off the street. One key element designed with client input: bathroom timers and lights—used to signal possible overdoses—that notify staff if a patient has been in the bathroom too long. Each floor is color-coded, helping people recognize which floor they’re on. Acrylic signs, with simple iconography, account for diverse clients and let the staff easily add updates. Operable windows, airflow, and sound-proofing minimize sounds and smells, and ceiling fans and tempered air in the shared central spaces cool Blackburn Center.

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Planning Story

Catalyzing Hope

So much pain and suffering is going to come in the door here. So much healing and hopefulness is going to go out the door and into the community. -Ed Blackburn, CCC president & CEO emeritus Central City Concern, a local nonprofit founded in 1979, serves adults and families in the Portland area—13,000 people per year—experiencing homelessness, poverty, and addiction. Their mission is to give people a chance for housing, healing, employment. As Oregon’s homeless population grew, and single room occupancy units shrank by the millions nationwide, Central City Concern formed the Housing Is Health initiative with six of the area’s leading healthcare organizations to combine stable housing with medical and social services. This unprecedented collaboration invested $21.5 million to create 382 new housing units across three locations. Ankrom Moisan was selected to bring two of the initiative’s three developments into reality, including a new model of integrated housing and clinic services in a single building: Blackburn Center. At its core Blackburn Center extends CCC's mission and gives its residents and patients the same comforts other people experience daily. It also closes the gap faced by most supportive housing projects, where housing is located blocks or miles apart from mental and physical health services—making consistent healing inaccessible for residents. Our design integrates housing and healing under one roof. Blackburn Center also catalyzes development in East Portland, inviting a more urban, walkable, mixed-use future. The site is located adjacent to MAX light rail and bus lines; connection to mass transit is a vital element of affordable housing and providing access to healthcare and support services. Moreover, the site creates a scaled frontage along the street, with public spaces oriented toward public transit. A small plaza, set back from the sidewalk, creates an intentional gathering space at the front of the building. Further strengthening the community’s pedestrian experience, retail includes a coffee shop. In the project’s early phases, our team used public data—connecting the last-known addresses of people using CCC services—to create a heat map linking the site to CCC’s client population. This instilled donor confidence in the project and helped get it across the finish line. Not only will Blackburn Center help underserved people, its clinical program will train students of medicine by hosting interns and residents from nearby teaching institutions.

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