Miró Rivera Architects
Coleman & Associates


The LifeWorks Sooch Foundation Youth & Family Resource Center is a 33,000-square-foot office facility that provides services for youth and families in crisis. Composed of two buildings linked by a planar roof, the three-story structure shares the site with 74 affordable housing units and a parking lot shaded by solar panels.


LifeWorks serves youth and families who are experiencing significant barriers to education, housing, workforce placement, and healthy relationships, and through its architecture provides them with a sense of stability, openness, and community.

As an organization, LifeWorks is made up of dozens of programs and services. In bringing those programs together under one roof for the first time, the architects chose to emphasize that very element: The roof is the building’s defining feature, connecting two separate structures (note the dramatic double-oculus between) and continuing down both sides. The thin, angled columns supporting the roof represent the many pillars that support the organization, while also defining a welcoming pedestrian space. The trees that line the street help to block harsh summer sun and create a green backdrop for the open-air terraces and spaces within.

Inside, each of the building’s three floors is differentiated by a specific color, not only as an aesthetic accent but also as a visual wayfinding device. The finish materials—including wood siding, carpet, paints, and even adhesives—meet stringent environmental and air-quality standards. Meanwhile, over 90% of occupied spaces have access to natural light, with occupancy sensors and adjustable shades provided to reduce energy use. In fact, LifeWorks uses 80% less energy than an average facility of the same size, with close to 90% of that energy coming from on-site solar generation. Also worth noting: over 80% of construction waste was recycled or salvaged.

More than any statistic, Executive Director Susan McDowell says it best: “Our clients can now experience a building that reflects how we see them—the strength, courage, and potential we know they possess amid their struggles. The transformation families experience through LifeWorks is often inspirational, and it is fantastic to provide a space that communicates and supports that.” – Bud Franck

Sustainability Highlights

AEGB 5-Star (Austin Energy Green Building)

Photo Credits:

Paul Finkel (1-5); Ibai Rigby (6); Sebastian Schutyser (7)