Hesed House receives architectural windfall

By on April 23, 2009

With the upcoming renovation of Hesed House at its new location in Aurora, Executive Director Ryan Dowd still wonders at the good fortune of having Sugar Grove resident Jon Bieritz of JB Architecture Group step up and donate the architectural services.

Dowd and his board of directors interviewed three local architects who all provided similar quotes. However, Bieritz called Hesed House after reading a notice in the Greater Aurora Chamber of Commerce newsletter asking for donors. Bieritz, whose architectural firm is located in Naperville, was interviewed and offered his services at no charge. Those in the room were so shocked that they told Bieritz they would take his proposal under consideration and get back to him. Bieritz left, shaking his head at their hesitancy.

“When the offer sank in, we were ecstatic,” Dowd said. “It wasn’t hard to pick from quotes of $19,000; $20,000, $21,000 and zero.”

Since the project of redesigning the old, abandoned industrial building began, Dowd has marveled at the skill and determination of Bieritz and his staff.

“Jon and JB Architecture have been great to work with, not just because of their pro bono work, but also because of the enthusiasm that the firm brings to the project,” Dowd said. “It is uplifting to see them integrate our needs and desires with what is legally required and technically possible.”

“We have been blessed with many opportunities to create wonderful homes for our clients,” Bieritz said. “But not everyone is as fortunate. We all need a place to call home.”

Bieritz is always looking for ways to give something back to the community. While much of the JB Architecture background is in designing high-end custom homes and renovations, Bieritz and his staff felt the need to provide for those who don’t have as much.

“This opportunity sounded like the perfect fit,” Bieritz said

On Feb. 11, 2009, the first special use zoning hearing took place at the City of Aurora with a positive outcome. The interior being designed by JB Architecture is 5,000 square feet of the 37,000-square-foot building. It will also become more energy efficient. The exterior’s front is being renovated to create an attractive and updated facade,

“We didn’t want to stray too far from the building’s roots and sought to retain some of the flavor of what it had been—an older industrial building,” Bieritz said. “Our aim is to allow it to hold some of its own, original style.”

The interior will serve as a social service center that helps lift persons out of homelessness. Offices wrap the perimeter of the central conference/training room that is the focus.

“The goal is to facilitate collaboration around a homeless person’s needs,” Dowd said. It is expected that construction will begin in April 2009.

With the increasing need for more space, Hesed House purchased the abandoned building across South River Street from its current location.

“As a social service nonprofit agency on a tight budget, the response of Bieritz was an overwhelming gift for which we are extremely grateful,” Dowd said.