With a modest budget and a short two weeks to create a theme, this clever firm turned an architectural sow's ear into a silk purse. The renovated youth center carries off a bright message of playfulness in a low-income housing project that desperately wants to start anew.

"With so little time, we had to keep the plan simple," notes architect Robert Junk. "We used a lot of particleboard and MDF, and sliding doors to make spaces flexible."

The project also had to be highly durable. So Junk and his team borrowed the motif of chain-link fence attachments as both structural and, on the exterior, suggestive architectural elements. Floors were leveled, and south-facing windows were screened with tough, diffusing fiberglass panels on pivots.

This was the last building renovated in the project, which had undergone an overhaul. "We wanted people moving back in to sense that the character of the place had changed," Junk says.

Category: Adaptive reuse; Entrant/Architect/Interior Designer: Junk Architects, Kansas City, Mo.; Builder: Building Construction Enterprise, Kansas City; Developer: Housing Authority of Kansas City, Kansas City

Michael Spillers Photography

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Kansas City, MO.