Overland Partners

Overland Partners

San Antonio, TX


San Antonio's New ChildSafe Center Designed by Overland Partners Wins Big Community Praise

ChildSafe’s new Harvey E. Najim Children & Family Center that opened in August, 2019, on San Antonio's eastside, has received both the Community Impact and Best Public Project Award by the San Antonio Business Journal.

The new building, designed by architectural firm Overland Partners, is a beacon of hope and healing for children who have experienced trauma including physical and sexual abuse, neglect, and witnessing a violent crime. As Bexar County’s Children’s Advocacy Center, ChildSafe brings together health professionals, state agencies, law enforcement, and legal teams to ensure more child abuse cases are reported and prosecuted, while survivors get advanced treatment to heal. As Bexar County continually ranks among the highest metro areas for child abuse in Texas per capita, ChildSafe provides vital services to the community.

The $26.5 million project was the culmination of nearly five years of planning and collaboration with architects from Overland, principals from Guido Construction, senior leadership and board members of ChildSafe. The concerted effort resulted in an extraordinary 65,000 square foot building situated on 15 acres where trauma-informed care and healing are central to its mission.

“ChildSafe’s Harvey E. Najim Children & Family Center is a reflection of our community’s commitment to assure children and families of Bexar County have a safe and nurturing space to receive expert care to heal from abuse and neglect,” said Kim Abernethy, ChildSafe President & CEO. “This type of collective care center ultimately makes the broader community stronger,” she said.

The new space is a national model of how abused children and their protective family members are supported. It is the first urban Children’s Advocacy Center to house a 24-hour crisis intervention center for minors who are sex trafficking victims, the only national Children’s Advocacy Center using trauma-based Adventure Therapy, and the only urban center using its natural surroundings as a restorative feature to reduce the impacts of first-degree trauma suffered by children, as well as second-degree trauma experienced by frontline staff members.

“By strategic design decisions, we were able to invoke nature’s therapeutic benefits inside and outside of the building to bring a sense of calm to children and families during a daunting and difficult time in their lives, as well as staff members who work in stressful situations,” said Michael Rey, Overland Principal on the project.

In fact, immeasurable care was taken to design a nurturing, child-friendly campus that has nooks and crannies for play, expanded family waiting areas that look out to beautiful green spaces with native plants, courtyards, and outdoor therapy and activity areas for clients. Private rooftop gardens and respite areas allow staff members to take breaks critical to their emotional well-being.

“The entire campus was designed and built on the premise of providing a restorative experience for all who visit and work there,” said Rey.

Guido Construction was a steadfast partner to complete the project in a tight 19-month timeline. “It was our honor to serve our community hand-in-hand with ChildSafe from conception to completion of this important project,” said Maryanne Guido, Chief Executive Officer of Guido Construction. “Our hope is that this new facility will provide the safety, resources, and support that will spark hope and healing for families and children in need of treatment,” she continued.

The building employs many sustainable strategies, including solar panels, rainwater harvesting, recycled water for landscaping and advanced heating and cooling technologies to minimize operation and maintenance costs, while being responsible stewards of the land.

“No one is more deserving of this beautiful and safe space than the children who walk through our doors to receive advanced care to heal from the horrors of child abuse,” said Abernethy. “This center says to every child—you are special and important” Abernethy said.   

To learn more about ChildSafe services and their new campus, visit

To see photos and learn more about Overland Partners’ role in the project, visit

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Status: Built
Location: San Antonio, TX, US
Firm Role: Architect of Record
Additional Credits: Kim Abernethy, ChildSafe President/CEO
Guido Construction
Harvey E. Najim, lead donor of $5 million and for whom the building is named