Architect Roundtable: What’s New & Next in the Corrections Market

Correctional News spoke with four architects who weighed in on the latest trends and challenges in correctional design. Laurence E. Hartman, AIA, vice president of HDR Architecture Inc.; David Crotty, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, vice president and senior project manager for HOK; Tim Gibson, AIA, principal for DLR Group; and Cameron Glass, associate AIA and vice president for CGL, each spoke about the successes learned from their years in the justice market.

Q: What are some of the successes learned from your years of experience in the justice market?

Hartman: I have been privileged to work on project teams for significant correctional projects across the country (and one very large international project). In working with jurisdictions as varied as small counties, large states and in different cultures, I have found success relies on simple principles. 1. Maintain personal integrity (trustworthy, reliable, responsive); 2. Strive for collaboration (e.g. seek to include all the stakeholders in the planning process); 3. Pay attention to detail (e.g. follow through with commitments; know the project intimately); 4. Regard the client with great respect; and 5. Demonstrate empathy for the staff and inmates (e.g. imagine if you were confined to the facility as an inmate or staff member).

Crotty: My motto is ‘listen to the owner and user.’ The vast majority of the owner and user representatives I’ve worked with are very experienced in their profession and bring clear and actionable ideas to our designs. For example, we have a client that is working with us to develop correctional facilities that are part of a larger connected community. We are centralizing their facilities and programs to not only make for an efficient correctional environment, but also foster an efficient rehabilitation environment. The facilities are able to house a hardened criminal, work with him as he steps down from maximum- to medium- to minimum-security. Then, he is directed to a reentry facility and onto a day reporting center. The client had the vision to locate the entire process at one centralized campus. The inmate’s goals are literally visible.

Gibson: Every project requires a unique response to the owner’s needs and an understanding of how to implement a plan to solve the problem. In order to succeed we must strive to become a trusted advisor to our clients, I strongly believe that successful projects are the result of owners, architects and builders working toward a common goal.

Glass: Being located on the West Coast throughout my 15 years of experience, I have been able to witness some amazing shifts in corrections happening in the California market that have occurred due to realignment and inmates being housed at local county jails for periods longer than one-year. I have the privilege of partnering with local sheriff’s departments to help strategically expand or remodel the local jail facilities to provide the programs and services that are needed when you incarcerate an individual for longer than one year. This has really forced me to come up with some creative solutions for remodeling of existing spaces as not all of the smaller jurisdictions can afford the costs of a new facility. Partnering with the smaller rural counties has taught me that to be successful you must provide jail solutions that solve long-term housing while being very sensitive to staff efficiency as building the jail is relatively cheap when compared to the life-cycle costs associated with staffing a facility. Operational costs can kill a jail project in small counties with limited budgets.

For the entire architect roundtable, read the January/February 2016 issue of Correctional News.