Built in 1957 as Bridges Juvenile Center, Spofford was a secure detention facility. It closed in 2010. At the time of this visit in August 2009, it was rated for a maximum capacity of 75 kids, usually 16-20 are female.

At the time of my visit there were 41 kids. In its last iteration, Spofford was an intake facility and youth were usually held for around two weeks. At the time of visit it was a hot August day and there was no A/C– typical for a facility with long hallways, inadequate heating and air conditioning and a remote location in Hunt’s Point Bronx, New York. Since its closure, all juvenile offenders have been moved to two newer facilities– Horizon and Crossroads, both constructed in 1998.

Johnson Youth Facilities, Juneau, Alaska

What are the issues in building new facilities for detention, commitment and treatment? The basic American Correctional Association guidelines stipulate a dimensions no smaller than 8′ x 10′  for juvenile housing, but what factors go into the design of these cells and the facilities containing them? Cost, future need, juvenile security, staff security, ADA, durability, type of offense, gender all factor into components such as size of room, windows/view, toilet (wet or dry), doors (non-existant, lockable open from single or both directions), wall treatments, furniture, segregation and integration. These are but some of the issues that are addressed by architects who serve a client that has multiple stake holders to contend with: tax-payers, courts, legislators and, ultimately and most importantly, the juveniles.

Click here for brief essay on architectural issues by Jeff Goodale, HOK

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