Online Exclusive: Dress for Success Houston

The not-for-profit gets an easier-to-access home that will provide clients with even further opportunities.

After 14 years of giving back, the favor was finally returned to Dress for Success Houston by none other than Ziegler Cooper Architects. The firm designed a new 16,600-sq.-ft. office, warehouse and clothing store for the not-for-profit that provides disadvantaged women with professional attire, a network of support and career development tools.

Part of Ziegler Cooper’s design services were provided pro-bono.

Dress for Success Houston is unique in that it is the first affiliate in a worldwide network of 137 agencies to own property. The location (Eastside Street) was specifically chosen for its proximity to current bus routes and a future Metro Light Rail University line down Richmond. It reduced an hour long ride on Metro to Dress for Success’ previous location to just 17 minutes. The Upper Kirby District it resides in will also provide more job opportunities for Dress for Success Houston clients.

They desired a corporate setting, which Ziegler Cooper delivered, along with a number of sustainable design elements. Abundant natural light, low water usage, high efficiency mechanical systems and a green roof area were integrated, just to name a few. The design and construction team faced two obstacles though: the original program and budget called for a single story building. The size of the site limited the number of parking spaces that a single story building allowed for, so they suggested a two story scheme that would accommodate more parking spaces.  Unfortunately, the two story scheme did not allow for any growth of the organization (the second obstacle.) To address this problem, the team suggested a portion of the second floor be designated as an outdoor terrace which could be enclosed for the organization's growth in the future.     

And quite a future it will be. This year, their goal is to serve 7,000 women, in addition to the already 44,000 they’ve served over the past 14 years.