#WomensBldg

Deborah Berke Partners will redesign a former Chelsea prison into home for women’s rights advocacy

Architecture East Preservation
Earlier, speculative rendering of a redeveloped Bayview Correctional Facility from the New York Governor's Office. Deborah Berke Partners has not released images of their proposal.
(Courtesy New York Governor's Office)
Earlier, speculative rendering of a redeveloped Bayview Correctional Facility from the New York Governor's Office. Deborah Berke Partners has not released images of their proposal. (Courtesy New York Governor's Office)

New York-based Deborah Berke Partners has been announced as winners of The Women’s Building International Design Competition by The NoVo Foundation and Goren Group. The competition saw 43 teams submit designs to repurpose the former Bayview Correctional Facility into The Women’s Building, which will be home for girl’s and women’s rights advocacy in New York.

A 1931 project by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, the structure sits on the south corner of West 20th Street and 11th Avenue. It served as a medium-security women’s prison until 2012. At the time of closing, the facility held 153 inmates; the prison was forced to shut-down after incurring heavy maintenance costs post Hurricane Sandy. The building was then acquired by Empire State Development, who later sold it to The NoVo Foundation and Goren Group in fall of last year. Back then, executive director of the non-profit NoVo Foundation Pamela Shifman said, “We are envisioning a sort of vertical neighborhood where women leaders can connect with each other in very powerful ways.”

“We are deeply honored by the opportunity to be design partners in this important work,” Deborah Berke said in a press release. “In my more than 30 years of practice, few projects have resonated with me as personally as this one has. The idea of turning the old correctional facility into a place of hope and action, and the transformational nature of the project’s mission, are an inspiration for my team.”


“Over the last several months, we have met with and heard from hundreds of leaders and activists, including formerly incarcerated women, about what they hope to see in this building,” said Pamela Shifman. “Deborah Berke and her team are the perfect partners to join us as we continue this journey, turning a shared vision of a space for liberation, equality, and justice for all girls and women into a concrete reality.”

Lela Goren, founder and president of Goren Group also added, “As we think about all The Women’s Building stands for and all we hope it will be, Deborah Berke Partners truly embodies the essence of that vision. Berke leads a team that’s not only incredibly skillful, but which we believe has the collective expertise, creativity, and collaborative spirit necessary to breathe renewed life into this space.”

The 100,000 square-foot building is due to reopen by 2020, with ground breaking sometime next year.

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