The proposed renovation and expansion of the Brooklyn Detention Center (BDC) would transform the aging jail into a state-of-the-art 21st century civic landmark. The design is informed by five key factors: creating a building of design excellence and high performance energy efficiency; replacing an artifact from another era with a new paradigm in Brooklyn's civic and commercial center; addressing key concerns of the neighbouring community; introducing best practices to provide humane, normative environments for detainees; and providing a safe and secure environment, both inside the building and within the urban context.
The existing BDC is a 1950s building on Atlantic Avenue, a lively street at the transition from the Boerum Hill residential neighbourhood to the civic and commercial Downtown Brooklyn area. The transformed building complements the spirit of the adjacent municipal and commercial buildings and is a good neighbour to the nearby residential community, while almost doubling the size of the facility. The reorganisation of the ground floor incorporates new retail space along Atlantic Avenue, further contributing to neighbourhood vitality.
To create a building where old and new are fully integrated, the existing center tower structure is maintained and surrounded with new construction that occupies the full extent of the site. The new façade is composed of architectural pre-cast concrete panels (which speak to the adjacent limestone Brooklyn Criminal Court), a glass curtain wall, and a 15,000-sq-ft photovoltaic panel screen. The design is a carefully balanced composition, juxtaposing the lightness of the glass curtain wall with the mass of perforated concrete volumes to provide maximum light, air and security throughout the building.
Sustainability is a key component of the design. Designed to achieve LEED Silver certification, green elements explored include a green roof, water conservation, high performance exterior envelope and energy efficient lighting and climate system.