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499 Summit Andreas  Tjeldflaat and Greg Knobloch

Prisons those gloomy, dark, uninviting holding containers for criminals. I can’t imagine anyone being excited to design one of these buildings with all their regulations and restrictions. The idea behind these institutions is to make it so no one, whatever their situation, want to be locked up in one. In a way, we punish criminals through architecture by throwing them into a locked cage, inside a locked building allocating zero freedom. But could there be a better solution, especially since a majority of released criminals return to jail within a couple of years, clearly not reformed.

Courtesy of Andreas Tjeldflaat and Greg Knobloch

Students Andreas Tjeldflaat and Greg Knobloch walk on the verge of socialists as they propose this alternative to the US prison system. 499.Summit takes high-rise buildings, tilts them, and then integrates them together creating arch like structures. Each arch has three primary phases that the inmates would graduate from, starting with incarceration (up), then transformation (over), and ending with integration (down). This concept tries to smooth the transition for prisoners back into society in an attempt to help them succeed rather than kicking them out and saying “goodluck”.


Courtesy of Andreas Tjeldflaat and Greg Knobloch

While this building is designed with good intentions in consideration of inmates and the surrounding public alike, it’s difficult to say whether or not constructing prisons like this would solve any problems. Designs such as this begin to question the responsibility of architects. The proposal is interesting and provides a constructive argument for re-imagining prisons, but design wise the 499.Summit still resembles the stark, cold preconceptions of prisons making me come back to the thought, could there be a better solution?

Architects: Andreas Tjeldflaat and Greg Knobloch

Courtesy of Andreas Tjeldflaat and Greg Knobloch

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