Lake County Juvenile Detention & Courts Center

Lake County Juvenile Detention & Courts Center

In the mid 1990s, the Lake County, IL, juvenile justice system experienced significant operational difficulties. A rapidly increasing county population resulted in overcrowding at the existing detention center and expanded court and probation caseloads. Court dockets overwhelmed existing hearing room capabilities, and probation staff were crowded into insufficient workspace.

In response, Lake County authorities elected to pursue the development of a new juvenile detention and courts facility by remodeling an existing county home for the elderly. Existing spaces were converted to administrative offices for detention, probation, states attorney and court staff and to program areas supporting residential detention activities (education, visiting, dining and admissions). New housing areas for 48 youth, with integral indoor and outdoor activity space, were developed. Housing units, each with eight sleeping rooms and dayroom, are arranged in groups of three around a central commons area that supports staff supervision of multiple units and a wide range of program functions throughout the day. Immediate access to central education and dining spaces is easily accomplished. Site organization permits the future inclusion of three additional housing units for a total capacity of 72 residents.

Courts areas include three courtrooms, judicial office and support spaces, private interview rooms, and a large public lobby/waiting area. Resident access to courts occurs through secure areas that eliminate undesired contact with the public. Direct access to courts and detention areas is available for both states attorney and probation staff.

Planning activities included analysis of the existing structure to determine its suitability for adaptive reuse, operational and architectural programming, spatial organization concept development, and design review during subsequent design and construction phases.