The Evergreen Shelter

June 2021

Project Description

Nestled on the corner of a typical city block, The Evergreen Shelter is a homeless shelter designed with empathy and purpose. Evergreen seeks to provide clients with more than just temporary relief; by connecting its residents with meaningful resources, this shelter hopes to create lasting changes. By embracing biophilic design, Evergreen hopes to nurture a healing environment that clients feel secure in. This is a building that stands for the evergreen things in life-- charity, community, and compassion.

Project Background

This project is my first independent Revit project. It was inspired by Casa Verde, the project that my ACE Team (ACE Team 8) worked on during our 2020-2021 season. During Casa Verde's conceptual design phase, I sketched a building design and decided to use Revit to bring it to life as an independent project. While researching homelessness and speaking to shelter directors during my ACE meetings, I learned a lot about this issue and about the state of current homeless shelters in New York City. With this information, I wanted to reflect compassion in my building using biophilic and trauma-informed design. Additionally, I explored the implementation of sustainable green infrastructure using green roofs.

Construction Documents


Building Philosophy: Biophilic Design

An essential aspect of The Evergreen Shelter is its emphasis on biophilic design-- a building philosophy that embraces natural elements as a key architectural component. By fostering a connection between the natural environment and people, biophilic design strives to enhance health, happiness, and productivity. This is especially important in homeless shelters, where clients might be dealing with different kinds of internal and external stressors. In an urban environment, giving clients access to a place removed from the congestion, noisiness, and generally bustling nature of city life may reduce stress levels.

At the front of the building, curtain walls open up a scenic view of the site, allowing natural sunlight to illuminate the hallways. In addition to giving the shelter a dynamic shape, Evergreen's wooden louver façade integrates birch wood, a naturally occurring material, into the construction process. Finally, Evergreen features three major greenspaces: the main courtyard and two green roofs.

Green Roofs

The Evergreen Shelter features two green roofs, which have planters, seating areas, and greenhouses. This is a safe, relaxing space that aims to nurture the physical, physiological, and emotional health of its clients.

In addition to creating an attractive green space for people to enjoy, green roofs also have practical benefits. For example, green roofs can help collect, infiltrate, and cleanse rainwater in order to offset stormwater runoff, which is a major problem in urban environments like New York City. Urban areas are particularly susceptible to rainwater runoff because asphalt streets and concrete sidewalks are impermeable surfaces. As a result, excess stormwater can easily overwhelm urban sewage pipes and treatment facilities, creating a mixture of sewage and rainwater called combined sewer overflows (CSOs). Sewage pipes flush CSOs into streams, contaminating local bodies of water with a toxic blend of industrial waste, debris, pesticides, and litter. By collecting stormwater, green roofs can offset rainwater runoff by draining excess water at a later time, thereby alleviating the stress on sewage pipes and water treatment plants.

Green Roof Construction

In Revit, I created a custom component with different layers to model the roofing materials that constitute the typical anatomy of intensive green roofs:

  1. Vegetation: a layer of plants with shallow root systems (e.g., grasses, mosses, herbs)

  2. Growth Substrate: a layer of natural soil that sustains plant roots and accumulates water

  3. Filtration: a thin layer of fabric that prevents soil from entering the drainage layer

  4. Drainage: a layer of gravel/large rocks that stores excess water

  5. Protection: formed plastic and vapor retarders work as root barriers and waterproof membranes (respectively) in order to protect the roof formboard

  6. Structural Support: concrete creates a sturdy structure for the green roof system

Green Roof on Building 1

Green Roof on Building 2

Timber Louver Façade

Evergreen's distinctive wooden louver façade gives the building a modern yet warm appearance. I struggled quite a bit while choosing how I wanted to design Evergreen's exterior, but I decided to use a timber louver façade because of its insulative properties and eye-catching look. To create this façade in Revit, I explored the custom curtain wall feature and made custom mullions to model the vertical louvers.

Compared to other materials, wood is a respectable insulating material that offers many ecological benefits. For example, wood louvers have the potential to reduce the amount of energy entering/exiting the building, reducing the reliance on air conditioning/heating units in order to maintain a comfortable temperature. Additionally, wood materials naturally absorb sound, making this façade particularly useful in urban landscapes, where city life sounds like stop-and-go traffic, tires on pavement, and engines going and going. By decreasing the noticeable effects of noise pollution within Evergreen's perimeter, this façade successfully reduces aversive stimuli.

Building 2

Building 2 is Evergreen's programming building. On the first floor, clients have access to a laundry room, counseling/therapy offices, and on-site medical care. In the second-floor cafeteria, clients can eat freshly-prepared meals three times a day at specified mealtimes. The cafeteria also opens into the library, where clients can read, meditate, or use the computers. On the third floor, clients can participate in workshops, vocational training classes, and employment readiness courses. In these programs, clients gain valuable life skills that prepare them for their move into independent housing. Evergreen's extensive programming offers its clients the chance to take proactive steps in order to live a sustainable, productive, and independent lifestyle.




Evergreen was a wonderful introduction to Revit that gave me the opportunity to explore this software creatively. I created this project in my Advanced CAD class, a course at Staten Island Technical High School taught by my cyborg technology teacher, Mr. Buro, who has been incredibly supportive of me and my ideas. Prior to this class, I had no experience with Revit. Using this program felt overwhelming at first, but I quickly learned how to use Revit and troubleshoot problems by accessing online resources. In the process of creating Evergreen, I learned to work with various tools in Revit including curtain walls and topography. Furthermore, I was able to implement my knowledge from previous introductory projects (such as the importance of shared wet walls and regular geometry in floor plans) to inform my design. Additionally, I explored rendering with Enscape for the first time, which brought a new level of excitement to the design process. I truly feel like my Revit knowledge (along with my confidence in using this software) accelerated while creating this project. I learned so much during this process, and I'm looking forward to seeing how I might be able to apply these skills to future projects!