i + D - September/October 2020 - 30

Correcting Corrections - By Brian Libby

Campuses that Care
Two correctional facilities in San Diego County-2014's
Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility and a multiphase
renovation of San Diego Juvenile Justice Campus begun
in 2018-seem to represent the future, in part by breaking
down facilities into smaller pieces and encouraging movement.
Las Colinas, a women's facility designed by San Diego's HMC
Architects and San Francisco's KMD Architects, looks more like
a community college campus or a health clinic than a jail. The
designers employed a soft color palette, natural surfaces like
wood, acoustically dampening materials, and much more glass
than one would typically find in such a facility. The campus is
divided into zones-administrative, communal, programmatic,
and housing-connected by walking paths and a central
greenspace intended for recreation.
"The same principles we used on this detention facility-in
terms of creating spaces to walk around and converse, to seek
counseling, to socialize, or to study quietly-are all the same
things that we would do in education," says James Krueger of
HMC Architects. "There's a lot of crossover."
Since its opening six years ago, Las Colinas has not gone
unnoticed. "It's had people touring from sheriff's departments
from all over the United States and the world," Krueger says.
"It has had a huge ripple effect in the industry. There is not a
detention facility designed in the United States today that does
not use that as a case study."
Yet even in politically progressive California, building Las
Colinas was risky. "They had some pushback when they were
proposing it," says author Emily Anthes, who wrote a chapter
about the facility for her 2020 book The Great Indoors. "It's
not an accident that Las Colinas is a women's facility. I imagine
there would be more [pushback] if it were for men, and more if
it were not a minimum-security facility."

Architect Frank Gehry (left) with Alex Busansky of Impact
Justice in the 2019 documentary film, "Frank Gehry: Building
Justice," produced by Impact Justice.

30

San Diego County is applying similar design thinking to its
Juvenile Justice Campus at Kearny Mesa, which includes
a 128-bed residential facility as well as medical facilities, a
visitation center, classrooms, and a recreation center. Yet the
design is also about rightsizing. Architects from DLR Group's
Los Angeles office convinced the client to break down the
residential portion into a series of smaller buildings.
"If we keep them small enough, we can build them out of
timber and still meet code," explains Andrew Cupples, DLR
principal, justice and civic design leader. "Each one has its
own identity, its own porch, its own front door. The intent is
that this feels like a home. We like to talk about moving from
a philosophy of custody and control to an approach of care
and custody. Custody starts with care."
DLR also advocated through its interior design greater
interaction between incarcerated persons and security staff
through what's called direct supervision. "There are no control
rooms. The staff is in the room and is approachable," Cupples
explains. "They're there to feel what is going on rather than
waiting until something happens. And that does take small
group interaction."

Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility has welcomed
law enforcement departments from the United States and
beyond to tour and learn from the design of its campus.
(Image: Lawrence Anderson Photography)



i + D - September/October 2020

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