OU Architecture Students Rethink Oklahoma County Jail with Emphasis on Rehabilitation




Students at OU’s Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture created an overhaul of the Oklahoma County Jail from punishment to rehabilitation.

Senior architecture student JD Zogg led the 17-student redesign project, named “Rebuild incarceration, to answer the serious overpopulation and conception issues with the Oklahoma County Jail. The team’s overhaul makes the prison 48.5% more energy efficient and would save 5 million pounds of carbon dioxide through the use of clean energy and solar panels. The new plan is also structured to promote better mental health outcomes for inmates.

“[The redesign has] certainly a lot of coordination with the outdoor spaces. Lots of glass and lots of light, as well as accessible outdoor space, ”Zogg said. “So as much greenery as possible, as much open space as possible and as much light as possible.”

The student team presented their proposed design to the State Department in Washington DC in November, where Zogg said he had received good feedback. A few weeks later, the team presented the project again as an art exhibition at the MAINSITE Contemporary Art Gallery in Norman.

OU professor of architecture Marjorie Callahan led the OR dream course who started the project last fall. She said she was working with the Oklahoma County Jail Trust, a committee that assesses conditions of detention. Recently, the Oklahoma County Trust and Commissioners unanimously voted for the construction of a new prison, and while Callahan isn’t sure if the students’ design will have an impact, she hopes it will.

“They selected the architect Frankfort Short Bruza [for the new jail], and some of the Frankfort Short Bruza members were at the show, ”Callahan said. “Do we know if we are going to influence them? We hope. But it’s early enough, they’re trying to get all the funding right now to really make it happen.

Callahan said she took pride in the professionalism of the student design team throughout the process and that Zogg’s leadership role was instrumental in her success.

“It wasn’t your typical studio project,” Callahan said. “We usually do beautiful aesthetic skyscrapers or housing projects. And the involvement of the students to broach a subject that is sometimes not fun, and to be able to sit down at the table now. “

The Reconstructing Incarcation Art Exhibition can be viewed virtually here.



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