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a life in architecture shaks ghosh

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'You walk into this absolutely amazing lobby hung with chandeliers, an art exhibition round the walls, golden angels, a grand piano - it's like Christmas, 365 days of the year.' No, it's not some glitzy emporium, nor a film star's pad in Beverly Hills.

Shaks Ghosh, chief executive of Crisis, is describing a home for the homeless in Times Square, New York.

Ten years ago it was a dossers' hell-hole. Now, thanks largely to government finance, it is a thriving charity run by a charismatic woman called Rosanne Hagarty. The 12 storeys have accommodation for 600, and the building opens on to Broadway as well as Times Square - a prime location.Half the occupants are homeless, half are on low incomes and include a large number of 'resting'actors.

Training facilities on the ground floor help occupants make their way back into the work place, and street level concessions - Starbucks, The Big Soup - also offer training and jobs.

The double-height foyer is the heart of the building, 'Everyone has to pass through it on their way to work. It has a fantastic buzz, 'says Ghosh. A gallery around the perimeter of the foyer hosts art exhibitions and is an ideal place from which newcomers can contemplate the bustling action below before joining in. 'This is a real community, this is not a social housing project, 'says Ghosh, and it is one which she would dearly like to see emulated over here.

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