Rikers Island Prison: Part of New York’s Innovative Architecture
New York City is well known for many things, in particular its great innovations in architecture and iconic buildings; however the structures on Rikers Island just a few miles from Manhattan and home to 10,000 prisoners is typically not among the most people’s short list.
But perhaps it should be – because the Rikers Island prison facility is home to some of the most innovative modular buildings and construction.
Rikers Island is New York City’s main jail complex, operated by the New York City Department of Correction. It’s no small operation – staffing over 9,000 officers and 1,500 civilians that manage an average daily population of 10,000 inmates.
There are several structures on the island, including 10 jails that can house up to 15,000 inmates at one time.
Among the most recently added buildings is a Nadler Modular Structure custom made to meet the very specific design requirements of the Rikers Island Prison facility. Below are some highlighted architectural design features and benefits of this innovative modular structure.
The Nadler Modular Rikers Island project provides a blended balance of utility and function; an appealing exterior; the latest in modern technology for maximum comfort; and enhanced security features that address the unique requirements necessitated by the structure being located within the walls of one of the world’s largest correctional institutions.
The Riker’s modular building consists of several customized module structures, housing a mixture of office and administrative functions carried out by Rikers’ prison employees responsible for the health of the large inmate population.
Specifically the structure includes: 15 private offices; 4 executive suites; a customizable conference room with removable walls; a copy room; break room; IT work room; a computer server room with advanced cooling system; and a supply room.
Among the unique features and designs of the structure are 22 enlarged windows to maximize natural lighting during the day while enhancing the exterior design; and for when it gets dark, 360-degree specialized exterior lighting to illuminate the structure for added security.
In addition there are specialty mirrors throughout the structure that use a custom polished metal design that that can bend without breaking; thus preventing the risk of the reflective surfaces potentially being used as a weapon by an inmate.
And finally, the structure has a unique vestibule that helps maintain the heat or cooling from a centralized HVAC system to minimize impact when anyone enters or leaves to facility.
The Rikers project is a non-combustible modular building, comprised of 10 individual connected modules, each sized 12’X60’. All walls and studs in both interior and exterior walls are steel. There is also a specially designed bottom board made of galvanized steel. Together this design and materials increase the longevity of the building, and also protects against entry from the variety of small animals living in the area that can often enter through the bottom.
Another engineering innovation was the design of several centralized utility and networking columns going from the ceiling down to the floor, and providing a hidden hub for connectivity to the numerous surrounding office cubicles. Together this offers an interesting design feature, while providing an efficient, and very clean way to bring all the different power, cabling, and communication equipment together that’s needed by the office workers.
The modular structure also has a state-of-the-art IT server room, equipped with a dedicated primary and redundant cooling system to protect the 24X7 running servers and technology infrastructure, and the important data stored on these machines. This is intentionally separate from the centralized HVAC system, to maintain cooling even during the winter months.
The off-site, prefabricated manufacturing process of the Riker modular building delivered a variety of cost and efficiency benefits, while also maximizing quality control.
Constructing the structures in a controlled and protected environment allowed for increased building speed and quality – at a lower cost. There was no waiting for parts to show up, or unexpected delays due to weather or other environmental conditions.
In addition, preparation for the arrival of the modular structures on Rikers Island was conducted simultaneously during the off-site construction to maximize resources and time, and ultimately reduce costs to the client.
The Rikers projects applied a variety of modern heating, cooling, and lighting design principles to reduce the building’s carbon footprint. This included a customized 8’X8’ vestibule to more efficiently control the interior climate, and air quality.
The structure also has electronically sensored interior lighting throughout all the modules to conserve energy costs.
On the exterior, the roof of each module is built with a PVC-membrane and painted with specialized white paint, to reflect heat and effectively reduce cooling costs.
Furthermore, the off-site construction of the modules in conducted in a highly efficient fabrication warehouse, with all the necessary materials onsite. This not only improves the construction efficiency, but also reduces the carbon footprint from suppliers and the energy costs that go into building the modules.