Public Safety Building: Permanently Closed

Jacqueline Young | Stationpoint Photographic

This is a courageous shot because it includes all the street furniture in its full glory. Nothing has been photoshopped or cleaned up—there’s the garbage truck, the fire hydrant, the pylons, the man in a brown coat, some graffiti in the back; rather than detracting, these elements work together in a cohesive colour palette, contributing to the richness of the image. It captures the character of a real-life moment and allows for different kinds of readings that cohere with the multiple ways that Brutalist architecture is seen. It definitely elicits a reaction. – Jury Comment

Once a very fine example of Brutalist Architecture in Winnipeg, the Public Safety Building, designed by Les Stechesen while working for Libling Michener, was completed in 1966 and served as a jail and police headquarters. In 2006, after decades of enduring Winnipeg’s intense freeze/thaw cycles, failure in the limestone cladding necessitated the installation of a plywood covered walkway to protect pedestrians from falling debris. Ultimately, the City of Winnipeg decided that repairing and upgrading the building would not provide value to the community or contribute to revitalization initiatives. The building was demolished in 2020.

This image is one of a series made during the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic when my commissioned work came to a grinding halt.

Architect and location: Libling Michener with lead architect Les Stechesen, Public Safety Building, 1966, Winnipeg, Manitoba