Rikers Island, New York City's notorious jail complex, is set to close within the next decade. For some activists, the pace of change is too slow, but, if the city is taken at its word, ten years is a solid chunk of time to rethink justice in 21st century New York. A design team, convened by Van Alen in collaboration with NADAAA, has set out to do exactly that. Justice in Design, a new report from the Van Alen Institute, a design advocacy organization, gives broad guidelines on how New York's criminal justice system should look, feel, and function. Notably, it centers the urban condition but aims to enhance life for those behind bars, as well as those outside the justice system, by elevating both the city and the jail's livability with public programming, dense service networks, and lots of light and greenery. The project was deeply collaborative. To produce Justice in Design, Van Alen partnered with City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the legal experts, politicians, developers, and prison reform advocates she convened last year to address the Rikers closure. That group, sometimes called the Lippman Commission but known formally as the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform, issued its recommendations this past March: Closing Rikers Island, it said, is a "moral imperative," and it advocated for reducing the city's overall jail population and creating a network of neighborhood-based jails. To that end, Van Alen convened architects, environmental psychologists, prison reformers, and nonprofit leaders for the project team. Dan Gallagher and Nader Tehrani, principals at New York– and Boston-based NADAAA, partnered with urbanist Karen Kubey; Susan Opotow and Jayne Mooney, a psychologist and associate professor of sociology, respectively, who work at both John Jay College of Criminal Justice and The Graduate Center, CUNY; as well as Susan Gottesfeld of the Osborne Association, a nonprofit that works with justice-involved individuals and their families. (The team is credited in the commission's report with providing "additional support" to the study.) The group hosted workshops in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens with law enforcement, reformers, academics, and formerly incarcerated individuals to get an idea of what jail is like inside, and after. The workshops, Gallagher said, helped the designers better understand both day-to-day life in Rikers and incarceration's impact on housing choice, employment, and mental health long after release. From there, the team developed its design guidelines. Instead of producing a strictly carceral space, the designers envisioned a networked jail system spread throughout the city and meant to serve the wider community, not just prisoners. Called Justice Hubs, the mini-neighborhoods are intended to confront re-entry dilemmas—despite new rules, for example, many industries still discriminate against people with backgrounds—while addressing day-to-day challenges faced by those who work in the criminal justice system. In the Brooklyn forum, residents said they weren't concerned about safety if a jail were to open in their neighborhood. Instead, Gahllager said, people were worried the building would be ugly: a grey concrete Hulk surrounded by razor wire. That prompted the team to think not only about the design of the jail itself, but its relationship to the city and its people. "The building has to become more than a big wall with something else going on inside," said Gallagher, a partner at NADAAA. "It has to be an active tool of civic engagement." NADAAA's conceptual designs try to make life on the inside as normal ("more conventional," per Gallagher) as possible. The report emphasizes access to natural light and ventilation not only in outdoor areas, but in visitor rooms, activity spaces, and (especially) cells. Instead of monolithic cinder blocks and concrete finished, the architects advocated for softer, natural finishes to add visual variety and reduce background noise, a significant stressor in close quarters. The layout is supposed to make it easier to move within the jail, and the facilities would be placed near courts and social services. There would be ample but unobtrusive parking for corrections officers, too. The team didn't want to reproduce the spatial segregation that Rikers—a literal island in the East River, near Laguardia Airport—embodied. As a result, community facilities like public outdoor space, gardens, art studios, and libraries are part of the program and are open to detainee's friends and family, as well as residents who have no personal involvement with the jail. This is the first time NADAAA has done a project like this. Van Alen approached the firm both for their design sense and for their ability to analyze and rethink troubled systems. "It was one of those situations where we said, 'okay let's jump in with both feet,'" Gallagher explained. He gave full credit to the team's non-architects, whose research and work experience brought a local and highly international perspective to the project. They read up on Denmark, for example, which lets inmates wear street clothing and cook with sharp knives (but even their relatively progressive prison system is far from perfect). The design team's role going forward is unclear, Gallagher and Van Alen confirmed, but both parties want to stay involved. The general recommendations, summarized on the last few pages of the report, are just that. The concepts don't specify designs, as Justice Hubs will adjust to local zoning: A 200-bed facility in densely developed Downtown Brooklyn might look very different from a similar-sized jail in St. George, Staten Island. With a mandate to envision a system that at its core features many jails, there wasn't much room for questioning the fundamentals of the carceral state or challenging the culture of surveillance. But the guidelines are a cautious step in the right direction to end a traumatic system where detainees suffer degrading and abusive treatment, visitors lose hours on the bus to see family, and guards are hurt by inmates who themselves may struggle with poor mental health. Although Mayor Bill de Blasio supports the closing of Rikers, he hasn't been totally clear on whether he supports community-based jails. Given how quickly NIMBYs mobilized against the mayor's new homeless shelters, it's unclear how residents may react to neighborhood jails. Still, the design team is optimistic about the recommendations. "As a society we have a responsibility to facilitate best outcomes," said David van der Leer, Van Alen's executive director. And architects, he hopes, will keep a seat at the table.
Posts tagged with "NADAAA":
A 19-story residential building designed by Boston- and New York–based NADAAA, with local architects Westlake Reed Leskosky, will soon rise in Cleveland. The new 187-unit Beacon tower will sit atop an existing 8-story parking structure in the city’s downtown. Like many NADAAA projects, the building has an expressive envelope system. Panels of varying color and reflectivity play with light during the day and night. The coloration is calibrated to accentuate the height of the building, while a LED lighting system on an upper-level terrace “produces a dramatic lighthouse effect.” The bold facade of the project went through at least one major revision in the last few months as the downtown’s design review committee debated the building's color choice. An earlier iteration had the metal panels rendered in red tones. The committee worried that if the color faded, the building would become too pink in appearance. As the building is placed atop an existing structure, great care was taken to make an efficient design to maximize programmed space in relation to building weight. Targeting millennials, most of the units are one and two bedrooms, with flexible configurations. The penthouse level includes a party room, roof patio, and a chef’s kitchen. If construction goes as scheduled, The Beacon is set to be complete by fall 2018.
A tiny mountain town nestled in the Rocky Mountains is bringing in the big guns for the adaptive reuse of a beloved crumbling warehouse in its burgeoning arts district. Already a destination for the outdoorsy, the former mining village of Telluride, Colorado, decided to add ‘thriving arts community’ to the list of reasons to come and visit. Local non-profit Telluride Arts was instrumental in the push for more cultural programming and is responsible for the adaptive reuse of the dilapidated, but adored, Telluride Transfer Warehouse. The 6,000-square-foot sandstone warehouse stands at the heart of the arts district, making it an ideal spot for a center for the arts and a good candidate for restoration. After gaining approval for restoration, Telluride Arts launched a national design competition earlier this year. "Key elements of the program include a Kunsthalle for exhibitions, flexible spaces that transform to host a multitude of events, and a small, museum-style bar/cafe that invites a constant flow of people and casual gatherings into a living-room atmosphere," said the arts organization on their website. Thirty firms put their names forward and, after careful selection, three finalists have been chosen: Gluckman-Tang and Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis of New York, and NADAAA of Boston. The finalists will now have two months and a $10,000 stipend to put together a conceptual plan ready to present to the community on May 30. During that time, the teams will visit Telluride get to know the town and the little warehouse that could. The building is listed as a National Historic Landmark and has stood for over 100 years. Originally built in 1906, it was in use until its roof collapsed in 1979. Since then, the building has stood vacant and decaying, a period that has become as much a part of its history as the life it had prior to 1979. NADAAA touched on this relationship of crumbling historic landmark and contemporary cultural hub in their statement to Telluride Arts. “Rare is the opportunity to both preserve an important historic landmark and create something wholly unprecedented,” said Katie Faulkner and Nader Tehrani of NADAAA. “The Transfer Warehouse stands as a monument to Telluride’s history of perseverance. The fundamental challenge of the project will be to maintain the power of the ruin while sponsoring the vision and opportunity through architectural speculation for the Arts District.” The final presentation will occur in Telluride on May 30 and Telluride Arts anticipates construction on the project to begin in 2019. To learn more about the Telluride Transfer Warehouse visit the Telluride Arts website here.
New York City's Cooper Union finally found a new leader. Nader Tehrani has been appointed dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture. He joins the school this month, taking over where Anthony Vidler left off. Tehrani, formerly of Office dA, is now principal of NADAAA. Tehrani is also a professor of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and served as head of MIT’s Department of Architecture from 2010 to 2014. For over 25 years, Tehrani has developed research around material culture as the basis for speculation—exploring material properties, negotiating materials and their geometric predispositions and challenging the means and methods of building processes. “Nader Tehrani is in tune with the traditions of the Irwin S. Chanin School in terms of our emphasis on exploration and the processes that are at the core of the creation and production of architectural form,” said School of Architecture Professor Diana Agrest, who chaired the dean search committee. “He brings fresh perspectives on architectural discourse that will open new avenues in our teaching and will help create new energy in the school.” At Office dA, Tehrani has been recognized with the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in Architecture (2007). More recently, Tehrani completed three schools of architecture, including the Hinman Research Building at Georgia Tech and the Faculty of Architecture, Building, & Planning at the University of Melbourne. He is currently working on the completion of the new John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, & Design facility at the University of Toronto. Tehrani received a B.F.A. and a B.Arch from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1985 and 1986, respectively. He continued his studies at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, where he attended the post-graduate program in history and theory. Upon his return to the United States, Tehrani received the Masters of Architecture and Urban Design from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 1991.
The University of Toronto recently revealed ambitious plans for One Spadina Crescent, a historic property with a 19th century Gothic Revival building positioned in the center of a roundabout. By next year, the site will be the University’s John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. NADAAA, in collaboration with E.R.A. Architects, will restore the historic building and add a new wing with lecture and studio space, a library and a digital fabrication workshop. The project will supply state-of-the-art accommodations for architecture, art, landscape, and urban design students and professors. One Spadina has lived many lives—it was built as a theological seminary and was later a military hospital for World War I veterans, a factory for penicillin and polio viruses, and an eyeball bank. Now, NADAAA will transform the site into a new home for the University's Daniels Faculty of Architecture. Through a $50-million campaign (of which $24 million remains to be raised), the makeover will involve a contemporary addition to the north side, as well as pavilions and a public hall to engage the community. Plans include removing a fence that encloses the property and restoring pedestrian access. The main east-west corridor will serve as an extension of Russel Street. The addition's exterior will be composed of glass, stone, and steel and will conserve views of the building’s grand turrets. Within the irregularly shaped structure, openings allow natural light to enter the floors and rooms. A considerable amount of interior space, about 100,000 square feet, will receive daylight. The contoured roof will allow for rainwater harvesting. The restoration and addition are planned for completion in 2015.