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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

+ 826 Valencia

+ BCCI Construction Company

Photos via Matthew Millman Photography