250 Powell Street: Transforming a Jail into Affordable Rental Housing
The innovative renovation of the former Pretrial Services Centre, or remand centre, in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside sees the vacant portion of the building transformed into much-needed social housing. Originally designed by Richard Henriquez and completed in 1981, the building served as a detention centre for prisoners awaiting trial until 2002.
Freed from the need to incorporate security and detention elements, the new design sees the jail cells demolished and 95 bright, airy residential units built in their place. Large windows will replace the series of concrete pods on the main façade that once served as bed alcoves for prisoners. Spandrel glass will recreate the rhythm of the pods in the window wall, while the slabs separating the pods will be filled in to create a more sophisticated unit layout.
What was once a gymnasium for inmates has been turned into shared amenity space and a convenience kitchen for the residents. Each floor has access to roof decks, common lounges, and laundry rooms. The exercise yard is now a community garden with vegetable and flowerbeds. The second and third storey residential units are reserved for participants of BladeRunners, an employment-training program for at-risk youth.
This unique development is operated by the The Bloom Group Community Services Society.
Status: Completed in 2015
Size: 35,806 square feet