Shasta County’s New Juvenile Facility Promotes Rehabilitation

REDDING, Calif. — A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Shasta County Juvenile Rehabilitation Facility was held last November. The 44,627-square-foot facility was designed as a replacement facility for the county, which lacked the space needed to rehabilitate incarcerated youth.

Locally based Nichols, Melber & Rossetto served as the architect on the project, San Francisco-based Lionakis served as the associate architect and San Ramon, Calif.-based Roebbelen Contracting served as the construction manager.

The 44,627-square-foot facility provides 90 new beds in three housing units. Each housing unit includes screening, program and classroom space. The facility also features a medical clinic, multipurpose room, commercial kitchen, central control office and secure intake areas as well as support spaces for staff such as office space, locker rooms and a break room.

The operational and program requirements established during the pre-design phase require a safer and more normalized and non-threatening setting than the existing juvenile hall so that minors can undergo proper rehabilitation.

“The county was committed to providing a safe and secure facility that offered genuine rehabilitative programs to wards while in custody,” said Maynard Feist, AIA, LEED AP, associate principal for Lionakis. “Innovative design solutions were created for the decentralization of services with housing units and support spaces that are flexible to accommodate a changing population of wards in terms of pre-sentenced verses committed and mixed genders. A primary goal was to downplay the institutional feel to promote a more familiar environment that reduces stress and focuses on rehabilitation and support interaction with family and service providers.”

The design includes an abundance of natural light in an open and nonthreatening campus approach and supports safety and security with extremely durable materials, Feist said. A primary project goal was to maximize the amount of natural light into the facility and reduce artificial lighting in most areas.

“With a very restricted budget, the resulting design needed to be efficient and cost effective,” Feist said. “While designed with standard, commonly available materials, the playful and patterned masonry walls, cement plaster, metal siding and metal fasciae were combined with curved and sloping metal entry roofing, adding a level of richness not often associated with institutional projects. The facility effectively separates the detention spaces in an unobtrusive way that is inviting to the public and staff. “

The design supports the process of positive change by considering the built environment as an accommodation of functional needs as well as stimulating the minds and senses, Feist said. The entire team recognized the importance of natural light with interior spaces designed to provide pleasant, livable environments with highly durable, cost effective finishes and ceiling treatments.

A variety of sustainable design elements were incorporated throughout the facility. The goal was to use durable, low-maintenance, thermally efficient materials in order to reduce the facility’s energy consumption, Feist said, especially because of its location in a city that has extreme temperatures. Incorporating a highly thermal envelope was critical to reducing energy use. The project used insulated concrete masonry units throughout the facility, increasing thermal mass and reducing energy costs with a very durable material.

The project incorporated Thermal Energy Storage (TES) technology in the form of rooftop “Ice Bear” units, according to Feist. Each rooftop HVAC unit has its own companion TES unit that was provided by the local electric company at no cost to the county. The Ice Bear units create and store ice at night when energy demand is low. The ice is then used to support air-conditioning loads during the following day. This technology helps to reduce peak electrical demand loads on a community-wide level, which helps defer and reduce the need for the electric company to expand its power generation capabilities. The benefits to the county included reduced energy usage and longer useful life of the rooftop units. The project also incorporated LED lighting in select areas, advanced energy management controls and low flow water fixtures.

The project team was challenged to create an innovative facility that allows for operational, staff and energy efficiency, constrained within a site that requires clear separation of public and secure areas, all within a prohibitively low budget, Feist said. The biggest challenge was that the site was very constrained by the existing facility and the remaining adjacent parcel with limited service vehicle access, a major utility easement dividing much of the developable site and protected vegetation species.

During initial programming it was determined that the county desired to keep the existing Juvenile Hall for future use. This was contrary to the early planning discussion, which was to demolish the antiquated structures and open up the entire site for probation’s use. The county also determined that the existing Juvenile Court would remain on site in lieu of relocating to the new planned courthouse.

“The final design is a very cost-effective and efficient structure for the detention area with an administration portion that illustrates the progressiveness of the probation department with welcoming gestures that functionally serve the public while separating the secure areas of the facility,” Feist said. “In lieu of potential public opposition to a larger detention facility, the entire community welcomed this facility and places a strong emphasis on providing the opportunity of making a difference in the youth that are placed here.”

The facility is one of the first two California correctional facilities to undergo the SB 81 funding process. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation paid for $15.05 million of the $18 million project.