The Day Labor Station, a project of Public Architecture, is a simple, flexible structure that can be deployed at these informal day labor locations. It is a sustainably-designed project that utilizes green materials and strategies and exists primarily, if not completely, off-the-grid. It provides a sheltered space for the day laborers to wait for work as well as greater community amenities and resources. Our design is a responsive one, addressing the needs and desires of the day laborers themselves, as our clients. As such, the structure will be flexible enough to serve in various capacities, including as a meeting space or classroom.
Despite day laborers' contributions to key economic sectors of our society, they receive little in return. Their role in the informal economy has forced them to occupy spaces meant for other uses, such as street corners, gas stations, and home improvement store parking lots. A relatively small number of officially sanctioned day labor centers have appeared in recent years, but the previously mentioned informal gathering sites remain the norm. These sites are far from being ideal; their presence in spaces designated for other uses means that they often lack even the most basic of amenities (shelter, water, toilet facilities, etc).
Conscious of the controversy surrounding day laborers, our goal is not to cast an opinion about public policy. Instead, we seek to fulfill our professional responsibility: to give day laborers a more dignified environment and to advance the debate about day laborers and the spaces they inhabit.
The Day Labor Station project was introduced as part of the Design for the Other 90% exhibit at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York (May 4 – September 23, 2007), where a full-scale section of the project will be on view. However, this project is intended to be more than just a museum piece; we are actively working to locate a day labor site, which can serve as a permanent home for the first full prototype. Ultimately, Day Labor Stations will be deployed across the country.