Gregory Henriquez believes that transforming a former city jail into affordable rental housing is poetry.
He is the architect behind the transformation of the former remand centre at 211 Gore into 95 units of rental housing in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
The poetic metaphor of transforming a jail into housing is really a healthy message for any society,” says Mr. Henriquez, seated inside his upstairs office in the old B.C. Securities heritage building at Homer and Pender. The office is grand with plaster cornices, tall windows and marble floors.
“Incarcerating people isn’t the answer,” says Mr. Henriquez. “Housing them is.”
He has become known as the Vancouver architect with the vision towards equitable housing. He is the designer behind the Woodward’s Building, lauded as a successful merger of low-income housing and market housing, as well as the affordable Downtown Eastside condo project at 60 W. Cordova.
Mr. Henriquez is often confused with his famous architect father Richard, well known for Eugenia Place in English Bay, with the tree rising from the rooftop, a tribute to the forest that stood there before it.
The remand centre is a passing of the baton from father to son because Richard designed the original building, and Gregory has re-designed and will soon re-purpose it for social and affordable housing. While Richard is the true poet of the family, son Gregory has carved out his own niche as the social issues-minded architect.
“He is the architect with the ethical pen,” says condo marketer Bob Rennie, who worked with Mr. Henriquez on Woodward’s as well as numerous other projects.
Mr. Henriquez’s decision to focus on the remand centre was driven as much by personal necessity as it was to supply essential rental stock.