?What will The Women’s Building be?
The former women’s prison located on the west side of Manhattan across from Chelsea Piers will be reborn as a hub of activism and engagement, offering leaders working on behalf of girls and women the space, resources, and support they need to drive critical change. It’s a workspace – and more. It will rise as a vertical neighborhood, designed to spark serendipitous interactions, build partnerships, create networks, and grow sustainable solutions by bringing diverse organizations together as they work to build a better world.
?Why does New York City need The Women’s Building?
Organizations working for the rights of girls and women rely on collaboration and shared resources to move their work forward – but in NYC, that synergy can fall victim to high rent and enormous operating costs. We hear repeatedly from women’s organizations that they are struggling to maintain their services for girls and women, to keep their lights on and to connect with peer organizations, and The Women’s Building will ease these burdens. By providing shared resources such as office, conference and event space, as well as likely on-
site child care, The Women’s Building will transform the capacity of these organizations to work together to make change in New York City and throughout the world.
?What types of organizations will be housed within The Women’s Building?
The Women’s Building will be home to nonprofit organizations and a number of small, mission-aligned for-profit entities. All the organizations housed within The Women’s Building will benefit from the collaborative effects of shared office space, a likely wellness center, and the administrative and operational cost savings that are generated as a result. In addition, the nonprofit entities will receive a substantial rent reduction to allow them to devote even more of their funds directly to achieving their missions.
?What’s the history of this building?
The building was originally designed in 1931 as a YMCA for merchant sailors whose ships were docked nearby. The site was founded on values of safe harbor, restoration, and hope.
Converted into a prison in the early 1970s, the building locked away women whose lives were consumed by trauma, addiction, and poverty. Just before Superstorm Sandy hit in October 2012, the 153 women imprisoned in the facility were evacuated and sent to other prisons in upstate New York. The building sustained damages during Sandy and has remained closed ever since.
Our vision for The Women’s Building will mark a new chapter in the building’s complex and often painful history. It will carry these stories in its walls while being transformed into a home for community building and social change.
?Why choose a former prison for this project?
The Women’s Building stands for what’s possible when the potential of girls and women is nurtured, rather than locked away. The abandoned Bayview women’s prison provides an historic opportunity to reclaim a site of women’s confinement and pain, and transform it into a new home for those working for justice and equality for girls and women.
?How will The Women’s Building contribute to the surrounding community?
The work inside the building’s walls will be dedicated to improving lives on the outside – starting here in New York, with global reverberations. The Women’s Building will pull the outside in through public facilities, lectures, conferences, performances, and art shows. Its mission will not only enrich the neighborhood, but will draw in guests and economic opportunities from beyond.
?How will you identify which programs/service providers get to be housed in The Women’s Building?
NoVo will develop a process that is fair, reflects the values of the Foundation, and aligns with its mission. To ensure that you receive the latest updates, enter your e-mail address in the sign-up form on The Women’s Building website.
?Will you solicit input from the girls’ and women’s rights movement regarding the building?
Yes, we plan to seek input from the girls’ and women’s rights community to understand how the building can best meet a wide variety of needs. As part of this process, we will also work with formerly incarcerated women so they can help us reimagine the space. We will announce future engagement opportunities as they become available.
?Will The Women’s Building be inclusive of the LGBT community?
The Women’s Building is dedicated to unlocking the potential of all women, whether cisgender or transgender, and of all sexual orientations. We are deeply committed to ending homophobia, transphobia and all forms of discrimination, and every organization housed in the building will share that commitment.
?What about boys and men?
The inequities facing girls and women, from staggering rates of gender-based violence to persistent income disparities to unequal political representation, are very real—and they limit the potential of all of our communities. As we’ve seen around the world, unleashing the full power of girls and women helps to strengthen the future for everyone.
Men and boys also have an important role to play in advancing gender equality. We will work closely with organizations like A CALL TO MEN
, which engage men in the effort to reduce violence against women.
?When will the redevelopment be complete and ready for tenants to move in?
Our hope is that the first tenants will move into the building in about five years.
?Where did the idea for The Women’s Building come from?
NoVo has been looking for the right space for The Women’s Building for some time. But the idea has been around for a lot longer than we have. The women’s movement in New York has hoped for and planned for such a building for decades. This project is the fulfillment of that longstanding dream.