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Union County Juvenile Detention Center

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The mayor of Linden, New Jersey welcomed the placement of this new 72,000-square-foot, 80-bed juvenile detention center in his city, but cautioned us at the city council hearing “I don’t want to see any fence around this building”. We embraced the mayor’s injunction by designing a “thin” building – only one room deep – that wraps completely around a one-acre outdoor courtyard. We eliminated the onerous and inhumane security fencing so offensive to the mayor by using the building perimeter as the secure enclosure required by good practice.

Our design allows light into classrooms and housing units from both the exterior and the corridor side. Raked roofs above the dayrooms open to the south to allow daylighting all year long; creative use of glass brick provides secure enclosure and allows daylight to enter the 16-bed housing units; and small recreation yards adjacent to each dayroom allow daylight to penetrate to the floor.

Winner of 2011 NY-AIA Design Awards Citation, 2010 World Architecture New (WAN) Effectiveness Award; 2008 Merit Award from the NJ-AIA, where the design was described as demonstrating “Optimism that belies the building typology,” and the 2009 AIA-AAJ Justice Facilities Review Citation Recipient for design excellence.

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