HDR to Design Youth Justice Center in Victoria, Australia

VICTORIA, Australia — Conventional wisdom suggests there are few people more emotionally volatile than teenagers. Couple that hormonally charged age group with disciplinary incarceration, and the prison cell becomes a tinder box ready to combust. It’s this kind of unfortunate experience that global architecture and design firm HDR will attempt to allay when they bring their experience designing youth justice centers around the world to Victoria, Australia.

The company was first established 100 years ago this year in Omaha, Neb., by engineer H.H. Henningson. Subsequent partners loaned their initials to the firm’s acronymous name but did not dilute its guiding ethos:

“Work well done,” which has since evolved and been reinterpreted as: “To push ourselves – and our communities – forward. To create a better world.”

Now, during the year of its centenary, HDR has been appointed the principal consultant on the new youth justice center at Cherry Creek in Victoria. This is the next major step in the development of the new center, which is set to open in 2021.

HDR is slated to work with expert stakeholders through the Youth Justice Redevelopment Project team to develop the design and master plan for the new center. “This is the next important step in rebuilding Victoria’s youth justice system. This new facility will be a world class, high security, rehabilitative facility, designed by an expert team,” said Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos in a statement. “I look forward to working with the team at HDR to deliver the most secure youth justice facility ever built in this state.”

HDR has extensive international experience in designing state-of-the-art youth justice and correctional facilities with a strong focus on both security and rehabilitation. In 2013, HDR completed California Health Care Facility-Stockton, a 1,722-bed intermediate, medical and mental health care facility for inmate-patients of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) prison system. The price tag for the state-of-the-art facility was $839 million. Conversely, the Andrews Labor Government is providing $288 million for Victoria’s new high security center, which will include an intensive supervision unit, 224 beds for remand and sentenced clients and a mental health unit.

Pre-design and master planning phases will soon commence, according to the government, which released a tender to appoint a managing contractor to work with the principal consultant during the design and construction phases. The design of the new youth justice centre will be informed by a range of youth justice experts and stakeholders.

The design will also incorporate elements outlined in the Armytage/Ogloff reviews into Victoria’s youth justice system. The aforementioned reviews were those conducted by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) with an aim to “understand the department’s programs and services (either directly provided or funded) for youth support, youth diversion and youth justice services, including statutory and non-statutory service responses to prevent and address youth offending in Victoria,” according to the state’s DHHS website. The reviews are named for Penny Armytage, who was Victoria’s Secretary of the Department of Justice for almost 10 years, and Prof. James Ogloff, Foundation Professor of Forensic Behavioural Science and Director, Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science at the Swinburne University of Technology

“We’re getting on with this vital project to help keep staff, young offenders and the community safe,” said Mikakos in a statement.

HDR is partnered with additional design firms Aurecon, an engineering, management, design, planning, project management and consulting company based in Australia and South Africa, and CGL, based in Miami, and will work collectively with Victoria’s Department of Justice and Regulation.

“We are excited to engage with a client who is aspiring to reimagine the delivery of juvenile services and to work with our partners. Aurecon and CGL on the project,” said Mike Brenchley, HDR’s director of justice. “When this is completed, I expect it will be a model that will be referenced all around the world.”