499.SUMMIT Reimagines U.S. Prisons

Courtesy of Andreas Tjeldflaat and Greg Knobloch

With the guidance of their instructor Matthias Hollwich, students Andreas Tjeldflaat and Greg Knobloch from ’s School of Design have proposed an alternative to the traditional prisons seen throughout the United States. The innovative high-rise penitentiary acknowledges the fact that nearly two-thirds of the 14,000 inmates released annually from New Jersey correctional facilities will return to prison within five years. 499.SUMMIT offers a solution that intends to reverse that statistic and help inmates successfully transition back into society.

Continue after the break for more.

Courtesy of Andreas Tjeldflaat and Greg Knobloch

Project Description provided by Andreas Tjeldflaat and Greg Knobloch:

The US prison system has failed to see advancements throughout the past century and desperately requires innovation and re-imagination. While recent literature begins to question the sociological impact of prisons, there has been little exploration of the physical apparatus in which inmates are housed.

Courtesy of Andreas Tjeldflaat and Greg Knobloch

499.SUMMIT is the outcome of a critical look into these static institutions. It proposed to challenges all preconceived notions of the word “prison”, and re-imagines the high-rise as an urban penitentiary. The massing consists of three towers in the shape of an arch. The inherent linear and formal qualities of the ‘arch’ allowed for the overall circulatory concept: Up, over, down. Each arch has three primary phases, Incarceration (up), Transformation (over), and Integration (down). The arches begin isolated during the incarceration phase and merge together both physically and programmatically during the integration phase. As the inmates graduate through the facility, they are being exposed to an increasing degree of social interaction, to make the transition back into society as soft as possible. To catalyst this process, public program and residential housing are introduced in the integration phase downwards.

Courtesy of Andreas Tjeldflaat and Greg Knobloch
Courtesy of Andreas Tjeldflaat and Greg Knobloch
Courtesy of Andreas Tjeldflaat and Greg Knobloch
Courtesy of Andreas Tjeldflaat and Greg Knobloch
Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "499.SUMMIT Reimagines U.S. Prisons" 13 Apr 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 30 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=225905>
  • Andrew Paul

    499 Summit!!!!!!!

  • http://htdstudio.net HD

    Great work guys, you’re lucky to have Matthias guiding you on this a frustrating and daunting program. This example gives us hope that there can be a constructive approach to prison design. I’ve always said I’d never design a prison, but after seeing this new direction, there is certainly a compelling argument for revisiting this. This project is an provocative example of how to somehow ‘filter’ people back into society, rehabilitated and healthy, with a healthy outlook, hopefully reducing recidivism literally ‘block by block’.

    Well done.

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  • Greg P

    Putting this much effort into better rehabilitating prisoners so they can once again become productive citizens in society is a great idea. Putting this much effort into designing an interesting looking building for prisoners is a tremendous waste of taxpayer money.

  • Alex

    Way to make a prison look like a prison…

  • http://www.adigitalcity.com Jeremy

    I feel like they had good goals, but completely missed the mark in their design. The building appears as a stark, cold, and dangerous place. Certainly not something the public would like to see looming above their city, let alone come to visit and interact with the prisoners. Perhaps try adding some windows and colour!

  • common_cents

    I guess their proposal is quite interesting,but as jeremy said,they completely missed the mark.There is no evidence/drawings to show how the spaces work inside.Its great to propose innovative changes to prisons..but how do these ‘reforms’ take place.All we see is a form,but no function.

  • ale gaddor

    nice idea, wrong building concept, keep studying!

  • Pedro Dorta

    This is a very unique idea, but how do we know that it will even work? How do we know that people being exposed to certain degrees of social interaction will be “transformed” ? I feel as if architects try to impersonate sociologist most of the time…