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Deborah Berke Chosen to Transform Chelsea Prison Into Women’s Center

The Women’s Center will be a home for the international girls’ and women’s rights movements

Will Femia

The design competition to transform Chelsea’s former Bayview Correctional Facility for women into The Women’s Building, a home for the global girls’ and women's rights movements, has wrapped up and a winner has been announced. Deborah Berke Partners will undertake the redesign of the 100,000-square-foot building into a place for activism, partnership, and solution-building in the movements.

"We were inspired by each and every proposal we reviewed," selection committee member Rusti Miller-Hill, a former Bayview inmate and reentry advocate, said in a statement, "But from the ambition and scale of their Women’s Building design, to their collective strength, creativity, and shared focus on activism, Deborah Berke’s team truly stood out."

Berke and partners are still developing their vision for the site through discussions with the girls’ and women’s rights community. Berke was chosen by an eight-person committee composed of architects, girls’ and women’s rights activists, and other industry professionals. Over 43 submissions were received for the two-part competition. Other top finalists included Joan Krevlin and Julie Nelson with BKSK Architects, Jane Smith with Spacesmith + Davis Brody Bond + ARExA, and Amale Andraos and V. Mitch McEwen of WORKac + A(n) Office.

The facility at 550 West 20th Street was originally designed in 1931 by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, the architects of the Empire State Building, as YMCA housing for sailors. The building was converted into a correctional facility in 1974. The building’s remaining prisoners were vacated before Hurricane Sandy and the facility was shuttered soon thereafter.

The facility’s transformation is being spearheaded by NoVo Foundation and Goren Group, who focus on the advancement of women.

550 West 20th Street

550 W 20th St, New York, NY 10011, USA