550 West 20th Street


The NoVo Foundation and Goren Group

The transformation of the former Bayview Correctional Facility involved an architectural jiu-jitsu, where the weight of the building’s history provided leverage for a profoundly altered message. BKSK’s “Redemptive Adaptation” respected the qualities of the historic building, while also being radically transformative. Through examining the qualities of the existing architecture worthy of celebration: the craft of vibrant terra-cotta panels, the expression of verticality and the exuberance of its art deco ornamentation, we uncovered design solutions that addressed street level vulnerability, flexibility of workspace, and clarity of circulation.

The desire for community engagement is answered by a welcoming street presence. Our design is seen through a strategy of resilience – the building’s vulnerability to flooding, was made resilient – utilizing the potential of ground level gathering spaces to manage the flow of water, while protecting and raising the remaining program space above the flood plain. The building can also be an exemplar of flexible work space with shared access to a unique array of support spaces and services. Uniqueness will come, in part, from the preservation of chapel, gym and pool, re-imagining the existing courtyard, and reworking the annex wing as a new tower. The creation of a community ethos depends on legible circulation. The visible evolution of this formerly hermetic building, gradually from west to east, offers evidence of purposeful change. The discovery of intact historic elements in a surprising interior spatial choreography fulfills that promise.