Tuesday, June 26, 2012



Memphis was a federal correctional institution that I designed. By that, I mean, a medium security facility for adult inmates.

The correctional institution is a difficult design matter. It's an entire town within a security barrier. All aspects and interactions of a city are included: school, church, grocery store, offices, recreation, industries and housing.

Design is made more complicated by necessary security aspects: interaction, surveillance, organization and physical security. Protection must be maintained at all times for inmates, 
staff and the public.

Many other design aspects need to be considered: spacial relationships, functionality of spaces, relationship of certain functions to others, surveillance juxtaposition, efficient use of staff, and overall presentation to all people including the outside community.

Every aspect is designed with safety and security in mind. Also within the constraints of security, quality of the design to create an affable atmosphere is paramount. After all, 90% of the inmates will be back in society again and as much normalization as possible of the facility is conducive to good practices.
The Memphis Federal Correctional Institution brought all these aspects together producing a model facility used in other federal and state designs. My comprehensive book, as discussed earlier, was based on this facility.
Another Federal Correctional Institution: Ray Brook, N. Y. has an interesting twist. It was modeled on the Memphis facility but it was used as the athletics housing for the 1980 Winter Olympics in nearby Lake Placid! Entebbe had just happened at the Summer Olympics the time before, so everyone was concerned about security. Even the fence system was in place for the event. So it was constructed quickly with different functions for many areas. For instance, the commissary was a bank and the multipurpose room was a disco! It served its purpose well and afterward was converted to the FCI.



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Don Voth said...

Thank you!

Coal Czar said...


I am working on a not-for-profit, academic research video game project that involves designing a 3D prison level and I'm really intrigued by this particular design of all the ones I've come across. Would you be willing to send high-definition pictures of the buildings as inspiration for my project?