Siena Francis House Emergency Shelter

Siena Francis House Day Room area

Siena Francis House Emergency Shelter

Designed to Foster Dignity and Respect

As Nebraska’s largest shelter, the Siena Francis House campus has been serving the local homeless population since 1975. With their facilities in need of improvement and expansion in order to continue providing services for those in need, HDR was selected to help the Siena Francis House find a solution.  

The redevelopment and expansion plan includes demolition of the current day shelter, environmental remediation, site preparation, and landscaping. The first stage of the project, includes a new low barrier emergency shelter, which will provide each guest with access to a dedicated bed, increased access to bathing facilities, and is designed to appropriately accommodate the population with dignity in a durable and safe space. 

Organized into zones according to use, the new emergency shelter is a single-level building with simple, defined geometry. The entrance is defined by a large courtyard providing the homeless population an interstitial space between the public street and the building proper. This courtyard is a fundamental component of the design as it provides an exterior gathering and queuing space that is semi private. Designed to carefully to maximize natural daylight while providing privacy and safety, glazing was thoughtfully incorporated throughout.

Off of the main entrance and lobby is space for queuing and the dining room. Flanking the central zone on the north and south are core elements including restrooms, offices, counselling rooms, laundry facilities and the kitchen. The outer most zones on the north and south consist primarily of the dorms. The men’s dorm accommodates 350 people in bunk beds and is divided into two main areas, with each main area subdivided into smaller units by the use of partial height walls which offer more privacy and enhanced human scale. Similarly the women’s dorm, designed with 50 beds but can accommodate growth to 100 beds, features subdivided areas for privacy and scale. In addition to the larger sleeping dorms, there are six private rooms for individuals with special needs and dedicated storage space.

Designed as a welcoming and restorative space, the new facility supports the foundational pillar of the Siena Francis House — to provide help to those who need it with dignity and respect.

Siena Francis House Day Room area

Omaha, NE
United States

43,000 sf (3,995 m²)


Honor Award (2020)
American Institute of Architects Central States