CROSSING THE SKYLINE
Location Chicago IL
Design Aneesha Dharwadker
Awards Runner up, 2018 Chicago Prize: Crossing the Line
The United States has the highest proportion of incarcerated adults of any advanced nation. We have placed hard walls around the convicted, and invisible lines around them when they return to their communities. From Attica to Rikers to San Quentin, prison architectures have created “islands” around their inhabitants, further isolating them and impeding rehabilitation.
In Chicago, we have a rare opportunity to re-examine the boundaries of the prison in an urban context. The Metropolitan Correctional Facility sits two blocks from the Harold Washington Library in the South Loop, suggesting a provocative and productive convergence.
As architectural types, the prison and the library are opposites: one is designed for physical confinement, the other for intellectual expansiveness. What happens when we blur the line between these buildings—between freedom and captivity? How can we redefine “escape” through more humane architectural conditions and experiences for the incarcerated?
The proposed building links the 9th floor of the library, the Winter Garden, with the 12th floor of the prison, a typical residential floor. Programs include prison visitation rooms, a book annex, study spaces, and a lounge/cafe. Visitation rooms form a tower adjacent to the prison along Clark Street.