YouthCare is excited to announce the opening of the Orion Annex!
Lying across the street from YouthCare’s Orion Center, the Orion Annex is located in Seattle City Light’s Denny Substation. Looking for a partner to work with for the substation’s tenant space build-out, City Light approached YouthCare in 2020 since the mission aligned with City Light’s intention to “educate and inform the public while also addressing a critical public challenge in Seattle.” Architectural firm, NBBJ, designed the project and worked closely with YouthCare to customize the internal space for YouthCare’s specific needs.
Full of light and floor-to-ceiling windows, the Orion Annex provides a bright atmosphere of calm where young people can step away from the buzz of drop-in centers to focus on employment and educational goals. The welcoming entry space features restaurant-style booths where clients can meet with caseworkers and peers, and artwork by artist Erin Shigaki, titled “Golden Futures”.
Hanging on the wall above the café booths, this mural was an 80-hour creative collaboration between Erin and young art interns, Jayvon, Dariann, and Jasmine. This original artwork reflects the process of transformation; Erin comments that she wanted to teach the young artists about “kintsugi”, which is a Japanese pottery term meaning ‘golden repair’. “It’s about not throwing something away — it’s about creating something more beautiful and special than you had before,” says Erin.
The dedicated GED testing rooms in the Orion Annex will provide clients with a quiet and more private environment where they can focus intentionally on their future goals without noisy disruptions at the drop-in centers.
The Annex will also provide a critical space to develop, pilot, and dial in programs to be launched at the Constellation Center, which will open on the corner of Broadway and Pine in 2026. The Constellation Center will offer youth-centric solutions from YouthCare and its community partners under one roof. Young people will easily find the services, resources, educational and workforce development programs, hope, and encouragement they need to achieve their full potential.
Recently, YouthCare staff gathered with project partners and community neighbors to celebrate the opening of the Orion Annex. A small reception gave attendees a chance to tour the Annex, see how the space will be used, and hear from the partners involved.
“Our young people deserve an opportunity like this. They deserve a high dignity space to come and be engaged in their city and with each other, and to plan for their own futures,” Degale Cooper, CEO of YouthCare, stated.
Tamara Jenkins, Director of Project Delivery at Seattle City Light, commented, “Ultimately, as the glass on the outside says, ‘The Future of Power Starts Here’. This spirit embodies YouthCare’s mission, and City Light couldn’t be prouder to partner with YouthCare on this project.”
Attendees also heard from Ken Robertson, YouthCare’s Board President. “Our young people deserve inspirational spaces,” he said. “This is the kind of thing that motivates young people to success.”
YouthCare is grateful to the partners who have made the Orion Annex possible. Thank you to Seattle City Light for providing this inspiring space in the Denny substation, NBBJ Architects for interior design, consultation, and photography, OpenSquare for the beautiful furniture, and the Helen Martha Schiff Foundation for their generous funding.
We cannot wait to see the transformations that happen in this space. Congratulations to all who made this project possible!