The Compass Veterans Center in Renton, Wash., provides housing to veterans and veterans’ families who are transitioning from homelessness to independent living. In order to ease the transition, the Center needs to offer far more than housing. So Baylis Architects located commercial and support services—a Veteran’s Affairs Office and café, for example—on the ground floor, and organized the upper floors into separate circulation wings for singles and families with children.

Each floor features other “enrichment services” such as communal spaces for social interaction, a kitchen and dining for singles, a lounge, and computer centers, among others. “The complex program required separate circulation wings to ensure privacy and security, especially for the children of veterans,” the firm says.

Merit Award

Category Affordable/Workforce housing
Entrant/Architect/Land planner Baylis Architects, Bellevue, Wash.
Builder Synergy Construction, Woodinville, Wash.
Developers Compass Housing Alliance, Seattle; Shelter Resources, Bellevue
Interior designer Sechrist Design Associates, Seattle
Landscape architect Glenn Takagi Landscape Architect, Shoreline, Wash.


Baylis used three stories of a panelized wood frame over a post-tension slab to reduce cost and aid its quick construction. On this frame, the firm applied a composition of masonry, metal, and cement board and then added color for warmth. The architects did not neglect energy efficiency, specifying increased insulation, zoned heating, Energy Star appliances and lighting, and low-VOC paints.