Manhattan Detention Center

Manhattan, New York

Located on the edge of Chinatown and the City’s civic center, this 500-bed facility operates as an extension to Manhattan’s historic detention center, sometimes called The Tombs. Integral to our design was the goal to make the facility a positive addition to the vibrant neighborhood. Urbahn involved community members in the design process, resulting in the nation’s first mixed-use jail. One third of the site was carved out for elderly housing, while the street frontage was earmarked for commercial use. With the detention housing, recreation and programs located within the tower, only the lobby and service entrances engage the street.

This building’s massing mediates between the low-scale residential area and the large court buildings, knitting the two neighborhoods together. The façade employs pink granite with matching precast concrete. To further soften the building, we detailed the precast as semicircular components, creating a textural quality. Windows are configured as horizontal slots, permitting vision out but not in from adjacent buildings. Urbahn collaborated with two artists, Richard Haas and Kit-Yin Snyder on several art installations.

Client: NYC Department of Correction
Photographer: Eduard Hueber and Archphoto