New Orleans Juvenile Justice Center
Programming, Planning & Design
Client: City of New Orleans
Size: 110,000 GSF
Use: Secure Detention, Courts, District Attorney, Public Defender and Community Service Agencies
Mathes Brierre Architects in association with Michael McMillen, AIA, JSG Design Director
Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of New Orleans, including the existing Youth Study Center. Rather than simply replace the former 83 bed detention center, New Orleans courts, advocacy groups, and civic authorities elected to consider a new approach. Ongoing study showed that the ever increasing use of community alternatives reduced the need for a large detention center. Equally important, continuing study showed that a unified juvenile justice center incorporating secure detention, court hearings, all support services, and community agencies would best serve the desire for enhanced and well-coordinated services to youth.
The new Juvenile Justice Center features a 40 bed detention center, a courts facility with six full courtrooms, and separate components for the district attorney and the public defender. Offices for a diverse range of community services are located on the site outside the secure perimeter of detention and the courts.
Detention officials desired a flexible, non-institutional environment that supports advanced classification and wide ranging programming opportunities. To these ends, the detention component provides two 20-bed housing units, each divided into 8’bed and 4-bed living areas responsive to changing special classification needs. Housing, classrooms, dining, visiting and a full gymnasium are arranged around a central quadrangle that is used for recreation, program support and a variety of activities. All circulation between components occurs through this quadrangle, and residents are visually and physically connected to the outside from all program areas.
Courts areas provide extensive space for meeting, interviews and private waiting as well as operational support for all court staff. All public spaces, including court rooms and lobbies, feature natural lighting. Public defender and district attorney components are each arranged around outdoor courtyards accessible from the public lobby and provide family-friendly waiting and meeting space. A separate outdoor food court with its own kitchen is available to staff and the public within the perimeter of the facility.