San Mateo County Maple Street Correctional Center
Location: Redwood City, California
With a focus on reducing recidivism and training inmates to contribute to their communities upon release, this facility meets the county’s correctional needs while providing light-filled spaces and beautiful views.
The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office tasked the design team to create a new, transformative approach to their correctional facility. With a goal of reducing recidivism, the challenge was to create safe and secure settings that helped prepare people for new purpose in their lives via training programs, education, counseling, work programs, and transitional housing; to design a facility that is open and inviting to families, the community, and an excellent place for all staff to work. This light-filled, highly sustainable building would be a civic gateway to a newly emerging neighborhood and community park in Redwood City.
Surrounding landscapes provided inspiration for the design: watery colors of the Bay, textures of the wetlands, and symbolism of the surrounding hills and mountains. The resulting public lobby is a curved, double-height, light-filled space, maximizing views of the Bay and connecting with an exterior rain garden. Staff amenities such as a large dining room and state-of-the-art gym, both with views of the Bay, provide peaceful areas of respite.
Transitional housing units for inmates—evolving from the restricted, secure environments to work release programs and less restrictive classifications—were developed similar to dormitories, with softer finishes and more residential fixtures. Kennels integrated within housing units facilitate the dog-training program associated with a local shelter. Healthy living skills and training programs were made possible through a dedicated culinary teaching kitchen and dining area. Secure housing units were developed with natural ventilation and maximum daylight for the inmates. Use of color and naming throughout helps with wayfinding and adds another dimension of design to typically austere and sterile environments.
This LEED Gold-certified facility supports the client's vision for a transformative environment, preparing released inmates with purpose and new skills to become better members of their communities while meeting the county's budget and schedule.
This reimagined detention center expresses compassion for the inmates and does a great job of reaching out to the community. Its strong interior and program spaces are a result of the curved entry massing.