Architecture and Planning ETDs

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The intent of this thesis is to propose design considerations for multi-unit juvenile detention facilities. The investigation began with a literature review and an analysis of a case study. The literature review addressed the intent of juvenile detention, a brief history, the children involved, recommended programs and activities, starting requirements am the physical environment. This information was then compared to an existing institution. The comparison data was derived through observation over a five-month period, informal interviews with the children, staff and administrators, a questionnaire distributed to staff members and a physical facility checklist. A synthesis of the literature review and case study resulted in recommended spatial relationships and design goals for this type of detention facility.

Since juvenile courts and their services were predicated on the idea of treatment rather than punishment, their buildings and environment should be indicative of that philosopey. The design of a detention facility must resolve antipodean requirements to meet the intent of the juvenile court system yet also fulfill the raison d'etre of the institution. In order to treat, the juvenile must be respected as an individual by being given some choices and freedoms, yet contrarily, the detention center must hold the children securely pending court actions. These can be resolved when a facility allows choice and some freedom of movement within a secure perimeter. This perimeter must be secure enough so that the staff may feel it is an assumed quality and not be “on guard” for escapes, Spatial relationships through grouping of activity areas, arrangement of living units and clear circulation through the facility can aid both the juvenile in allowing more freedom of movement and the staff by permitting adequate opportunity for supervision,

A well rounded activities program and several support services for the children require many sizes of spaces. Designing for flexibility can allow changes in the program without necessitating a new facility. Since these centralized and specialized areas also are fairly extensive, it is necessary to offer a small group identity space. The living units should provide the setting for daily activities for a small group of homogenous youngsters. All space in the institution need be designed without any connotations of a punitive atmosphere; this might be derived through the use of particular and furnishings.



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Degree Name


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Department Name

School of Architecture and Planning

First Committee Member (Chair)

Richard Alan Anderson

Second Committee Member

Don Schlegel

Third Committee Member

Pedro David

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Architecture Commons