Ember Youth

Youth Shelter & Services
Cambridge, IA
60,000 SF

Resources for trauma-impacted youth and young adults in Iowa currently come nowhere near meeting the need. When completed, this 50-acre campus will offer 70 beds for emergency shelter, crisis stabilization and residential substance-abuse treatment for up to 750 adolescents and young adults each year, in a nature-based setting that facilitates hope, wellness and healing.

Ember's presence will allow youth ages 12-24 to safely explore, build confidence, learn new skills and prepare for the next chapter of their story.    Ember's facilities include a main "hub" building, three large cabins and outdoor recreational spaces, all placed artfully on a site to offer clients a feeling of stability and safety, while providing constant opportunities to engage with nature. Natural light flows into all buildings, and outdoor spaces beckon with benches, terraced landscaping, walking trails and green space. A sense of home and shelter are evoked via the prominent use of wood tones, gabled roofs, porches and decks, and comfortable 'living rooms' and bedrooms.  Safety is enhanced with clear visual sightlines for staff on each floor of the cabins and spaces developed with the input of a trauma-informed design consultant.   Ember's location, while relatively close to other community services, is also secluded enough to give clients the space and structure that trauma-informed care requires. Surrounded by rich farmland, much of the donated land is under a prairie conservation easement, which will protect its natural surroundings in perpetuity. Site planning includes planting measures to stabilize, restore and enrich the prairieland over time. Water treatment infrastructure will treat the agricultural runoff entering the area from nearby farms, and the large pond doubles as a stormwater retention space and a recreational opportunity.