The Arroyo – Bridge Housing

A Proud Partnership.

In 1958 urban life in Los Angeles had its challenges. Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles was the magnet for those less fortunate;  the Union Rescue Mission and the Weingart Center were the only resources for the population.   In 2002 we partnered with Gin Wong, FAIA, to provide mechanical engineering for The Midnight Mission on San Pedro Street and San Julian Street; in the heart of Los Angeles City Skid Row.

The homeless population is not just limited to men. Recently, there has been an extraordinary increase in women that are homeless; alcohol, or drug dependency or driven to the streets because of family abuse.  The County and City of Los Angeles along with multiple homeless advocates are addressing that population.

2017 Egan | Simon Architecture retained our firm to partner with them in the adaptive reuse of an under-utilized National Guard Armory in Sylmar to create the a women’s shelter to be known as “The Arroyo.” 



Adaptive re-use projects by their nature modify the occupancy formula, which influences the existing infrastructure.  The Armory is no exception; the interior gymnasium had limited ventilation and only heated with overhead gas heaters.  The current space would become home for 85 women; heating was not enough. The adaptive reuse of the Gymnasium to a Dormitory required the space to be air-conditioned and heated to create a comfortable environment.

The challenges included an existing roof structure that could not support conventional ducting without significant structural improvements, let alone supporting rooftop heating and cooling equipment. The lower roof of the Armory was structurally sound and was selected to house the heating and cooling unit; the only challenge left was to distribute the conditioned air inside the space. 


Three rooftop heating and cooling systems were selected, and each unit connects to a spiral fabric duct that runs through the dorm.  The fabric duct solution was light, operated quietly, and easier to support, resulting in a safer installation and, at the same time, provided for a contemporary appearance inside the converted living spaces.

The original toilet rooms were wholly inadequate for the new female population…dignity stalls were created for the water closets, lavatories were affixed to the wall with a full-length mirror and shower stalls were created to provide a safe, secure and private space for the women to bathe. 

A kitchen, dining hall and laundry room completed the renovation. To complete the restorative environment a community garden and fitness center compliments the renovation.


On July 20, 2020, “The Arroyo” officially opened this project is a tremendous start. Still, actions are required, and we are proud that we have been part of the solution to improve the lives of those homeless for as many reasons as there are homeless persons.

Egan | Simon Architecture has been at the forefront of developing solutions for homelessness and the development of affordable housing, and we are honored to partner with them on many projects.  “The Arroyo” is amongst the few women only facilities in California addressing the needs of women in that tragic population of homelessness.  

The Arroyo Mechanical System

This video focuses on the mechanical adaptive re-use challenges. We invite you to  watch  AIA “Design for Dignity” conference film produced by Strad Films. [Full Video]

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