Manasc Isaac to design $60M indigenous-centred community service facility

Last Thursday, Edmonton’s non-profit Boyle Street Community Services announced it plans to put up a new building on its downtown site that will include housing, a pharmacy and an aboriginal boutique hotel.

Boyle Street Exterior_smDesigned by Manasc Isaac Architects Ltd., the six-storey structure would replace the current facility at 10116 105th Ave. with a curved, multi-coloured structure intended to make Edmonton’s indigenous history more visible, executive director Julian Daly said.

“The Boyle Street Community Services redeveloped facility will be a Community Hub that is unapologetically and unmistakably Indigenous in design and offering much needed services provided by non-profit, government and private sector agencies to vulnerable Edmontonians and Edmontonians living in poverty,” write the architects. “Our Community Hub will be a place that is inclusive, engaging and thoughtfully designed, providing an iconic landmark that will instill pride and strength for our clients and the community at large. It will complement the downtown core and will be a place that all Edmontonians can be proud of— one where reconciliation is lived each day.”

Boye Street Interior_smThe $60-million project is intended to have about 80 units of housing on four floors for approximately 100 working poor and formerly homeless people, topped by market-priced homes that will help cover the bills. There will also be a bistro, bank, palliative care, rooftop garden and an approximately 18-room hotel with aboriginal designs that will give jobs and training to its clients, about 80 per cent of whom have an aboriginal background, Daly told a news conference. A major chain has already expressed interest in operating the hotel, he said.

Currently, Boyle Street Community Services serves over 12,000 individuals annually, 80% of whom are Aboriginal. The organization provides over 37 different programs to assist vulnerable people. Every one of these programs is the direct result of an expressed and repeated need. Boyle Street Community Services’ philosophy is aimed at harm reduction—meeting people “where they are at” to build on people’s strengths and to decrease the harm and barriers that Edmontonians face.

Boyle Street Exterior Courtyard_smTo develop the initial design, Boyle Street Community Services implemented Indigenous design strategies that collaboratively engaged community members in a collaborative, sustainably-aligned way during various workshops held throughout 2015. Throughout these sessions the integration of landscape has been a strong recurring theme—particularly the North Saskatchewan River, which was and continues to be used extensively by First Nations, Métis and Inuit people. The North Saskatchewan River has been integrated into the design of the plaza and the Garden of Reconciliation in Action and Healing as a reminder of Mother Earth and the water crossing that has brought Edmontonians together through centuries of co-existence.

For more on this story, visit Edmonton Journal.