The Bay Area’s writing community has a new reason to celebrate and it’s literally one for the books. The renowned 826 Valencia writing center has expanded to include a second location in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. Here, children ages 6 to 18 can gather, develop their writing skills, and hopefully thrive. In a heartwarming gesture to “the city that has been so good to [them]” BCCI Construction company transformed the space into the perfect environment for young writers, completely free of charge.
The nonprofit writing center is a welcome addition to the city’s notorious Tenderloin neighborhood and provides a much needed safe space for local youth. Located at the corner of Golden Gate Avenue and Leavenworth Street, the building was acquired in such poor condition that it required extensive demolition, abatement, and structural upgrades, with no shortage of surprises along the way. Some of the better discoveries included the uncovering of an antique hand-painted map, which was preserved and displayed as a decorative finish.
In addition to the writing lab, the center now includes a themed retail storefront, a fog bank, trapdoor, portholes, a hidden passageway, and a tree house. These playful features tie together a theme of exploration and discovery, while salvaged doors, windows, mirrors, building material, and even a fireplace, add to the center’s artistic charm. The 5,000 square foot space also houses a meeting room and administrative office.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the project is the collaboration between over 50 firms providing their services and materials at cost or in-kind. Through an outreach program spearheaded by BCCI, design firms, architects, and subcontractors (many of which are competitors) banded together to lower costs and building time for a cause they supported.
The 826 Valencia Tenderloin Center celebrated its Grand Opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 19, 2016. Learn more about 826 Valencia and its initiatives here.
Photos via Matthew Millman Photography