Center for Transforming Lives
Bennett Partners

Architects completed a pro bono study to assess the existing facility of the Center for Transforming Lives, a nonprofit providing services for at-risk women and children. The 1960s all-concrete building was originally constructed as a two-level department store, but most of the second-floor waffle slab had been demolished to accommodate potential industrial uses. Furthermore, most of the site falls within the 100-year flood plain. Two structural bays are removed to create a landscaped entry courtyard, bringing light into the building. Retail, donation facilities, and the trade school are separated in the north wing, with freestanding “houses” erected in the Head Start area. The building is carved away to create shaded play areas, and windows are cut into the walls with metal infill panels to introduce color. The flood plain is converted into green space for activities and events.

Jury Commentary:
“Opening up the deep plan with a courtyard is very smart, and the breakdown of the public program into rooms (houses) in the interior is a really great way to preserve the structure of the old building with the need for intimate learning spaces for young children.”

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