Old Brewery Mission

Facilities designed to help Montreal’s homeless people

Montréal, Québec

Since 2006, GRS Architecture has worked closely with the Old Brewery Mission (OBM) to design improvements to both their existing buildings, as well as the construction of new facilities. Approaches to homelessness have continued to evolve over this period: while providing assistance with immediate needs, the Mission seeks to find long term, sustainable solutions to end homelessness, and help clients re-integrate into society.

GRS Architecture has participated in projects at the OBM’s main Webster Pavilion, 904 St-Laurent, the Patricia MacKenzie (Women’s) Pavilion, Maison Roger Beaulieu and Pavillon Lise Watier.

“The Old Brewery Mission has undergone some major changes to its services and many of these changes required renovations to our pavilions.

Retrofitting buildings which were designed for purposes other than providing support to homeless individuals has been a perennial challenge requiring creativity, practicality, cost effectiveness and innovative thinking in problem solving.

These attributes are the hallmark of our experience with Grenier + Richards and as we have become a leader in the field of homelessness, G+R can rightfully share a portion of the credit.”

obm_logoMatthew Pearce
CEO, Old Brewery Mission
See the end of homelessness
Proud recipient of two Health and Social Services Awards of Excellence for our transition programs and affordable supported housing project.

Webster Pavilion (906 St-Laurent)

2006: Renovation of the 5th floor dormitories, offices and more in order to provide clients with their own sleep and storage modules. Users of this program are permitted to stay during the day, with access to counselling services, laundry and computers all on one floor.

2009: Renovation of the OBM’s food preparation & storage areas, including replacement of walk-in fridges and freezers.

2011: Creation of a new receiving area, and installation of a new elevator  and mobile racking to serve the OBM’s food services department.

2012: Creation of new employee locker rooms, laundry facilities and a receiving and processing area for clothing donations.

2014: Renovation of the 5th floor common room in order to reflect updates to the program.

904 St-Laurent

2011 to 2012: During this period the OBM assumed the long-term lease on an antiquated loft building located between its main building at 906 St-Laurent and its administrative offices at 902 St-Laurent. The Mission’s goal was to use the new premises to create a “campus” approach to services for homeless people – offering everything under one roof.

GRS Architecture assisted with the design and construction of the following features:

  • Upgrades to bring the entire building up to current building codes.
  • Structural reinforcements, new exit stairs, windows, insulation, wiring, lighting, plumbing, heating, ventilation, bathrooms and all interior finishes.
  • Opening circulation links (via ramps and fire doors) between each floor of 904 and 906 St-Laurent, as well as a link to the ground floor of 902 St-Laurent (OBM’s administrative offices).
  • Basement level: new storage facility for non-perishable food donations.
  • Ground floor: Mission Café. Here clients can drop in for a free coffee and to access the internet, in a “non-institutional” atmosphere.  A large opening into the OBM cafeteria allows the Café to function as an overflow space as well as a multi-functional meeting area for other OBM activities. Tables, booths, as well as a semi-private and private meeting room allow the opportunity for “casual” outreach by OBM’s counsellors.
  • Second & third floors: These floors are planned as an eventual drop-in medical/psychiatric clinic, as well as administrative space for the OBM Foundation. For the moment the areas are set up as “flex-space”, and their function will likely change as the Mission’s needs and services evolve over time.
  • Fourth floor: Known as “The Annex”, this floor offers living space for 14 clients that is separate from the main OBM population. New arrivals at the Mission are diverted to the Annex program, where they have 24/7 use of semi-private sleeping cubicles, lockers, washroom and shower facilities, as well as computer and internet access. OBM counsellors offer assistance with referrals for medical and social services, as well as the finding of permanent housing and employment. The goal is to try to help newly homeless clients from becoming long-term clients of the Mission.  The Annex program is a key element of the OBM’s strategy to work towards ending homelessness.

Architectural Drawings (pdf)

Patricia MacKenzie (Women’s) Pavilion (1301 de Maisonneuve East)

2006:  Renovation of the 2nd floor dormitory, office, meeting room and laundry.  As with the Webster 5th floor, users of this program are permitted to stay during the day, with access to counselling services, laundry and computers all located on one floor.

2009: Renovations to the main Pavilion entrance, including a more open reception counter, semi-private meeting cubicle, bag storage and cabinet for client medications.

Maison Roger Beaulieu (6400 Clark)

2012: Renovation of the lower 2 floors of the former Maison Roger Beaulieu to create a new secure, supervised “Sobering Up Centre” run by Exode including:

  • New elevator addition serving all three floors of the building.
  • New reception area, offices, employee areas and laundry facilities.
  • Renovated men’s & women’s sleeping rooms, washrooms, and gathering areas with kitchenettes.

2013: Renovation of the 3rd floor to create the “Pause Santé”, where clients with chronic health problems such as hepatitis are housed 24/7. This program seeks to reduce harm by providing these clients with their own rooms, as well as counselling and medical services, while they await permanent placement.

Facilities include:

  • New elevator addition.
  • Dining area with common kitchen and kitchenette, supervisor office, examination room, common lounge areas and washrooms.
  • Sleeping rooms with kitchenettes.

Architectural Drawings (pdf)

Pavillon Lise Watier (4450 Ontario East)

2010: With the participation of Bâtir Son Quartier, OBM undertook a design-build project with the owner of 4450 Ontario East to create 29 assisted-living apartments for women. The units are either studio or one bedroom units with kitchenettes. The lower floor contains a large common area with a lounge and community kitchen, counsellor offices and meeting rooms. At this facility, women are provided longer term counselling and housing.  The goal is to see them eventually move on to full social integration and non supervised housing. On this project, GRS Architecture acted as the OBM’s representative, participating in the programming and design process, coordinating with the owner’s consultants, and supervising the construction.

In the News


Café Mission


Dream Screens


Concordia Journal


Gazette Article

5_OBM_The Concordia Journal_thumbnail_image

Concordia Journal