Shechem, (pronounced shek-uh m) an offshoot ministry of the adjacent Hope Street housing takes its name from an ancient city in the area of the West Bank near present-day Nablus. As the pivotal setting for numerous biblical events, it was understood as a central place in the Bible and the story of the nation of Israel. Alluding to that past with its name, the Shechem ministry will serve as a central life changing place in the stories of the people who pass through it for job skills training, professional development, and youth recreational opportunities. The new facility will be a physical demonstration of Hope Street’s motto “The greenhouse for people”.
Developing a building to house such a mission was both a challenging and humbling experience. The interior layout was complicated in that all of the spaces wanted proximity and visibility to Capitol Drive. Because Shechem was conceived of as a welcoming, helpful place, providing a connection between the activity within the building and the neighborhood was paramount. Masonry walls perpendicular to the street open up the café, woodworking shop, and aquaponics space to car and pedestrian views. On the 2nd and 3rd floors a terraced greenhouse will support urban agriculture training and demonstration. Within our office, we are truly honored to be working on a project that is poised to help so many people.