Speculating on the American Prison – Ryan Botts

The long withstanding problem of the American prison system is coming to a head, as today the US stands today with one of the largest cycled population in the world.  The reason’s are endless as to why these prisoners, when released, are unable to rejoin and live in society.  Some who are in prison so long they cannot even deal with the realities of the real world.  However as new prison’s are built, and added onto, the way in which we house these people of society has hardly been reproached. Ryan Botts does in today’s project , out of Rice University, as the design approach tries to Straddle the poles of imprisonment and freedom.

STUDENT: Ryan Botts
Rice University 
YEAR: 2010

“The prison typology is a relatively new, albeit incomplete attempt at resolving one of the most volatile social forces in human society. Over the short course of its history it has enjoyed only minor revisions since Bentham offered his Panopticon in 1785, and most of these only technological in nature. It is evident that the American Federal Prison system is broken. With recidivism rates that have never been higher we are currently accruing the largest recycled prison population of any nation on the planet.

Some want to conceive of prison as a deterrent, others as a source of rehabilitation. Throughout the prison typology’s lifespan the popular conception has oscillated between these two poles with little or any success. The Synopticon, by means of constructing a incentive-gradient synthesizes both of these goals into a single formal solution. In order to achieve this, vertical volumes are punctured by large ‘coring’ maneuvers in order to articulate specific “reveals” and moments of cross-sectional awareness amongst the three strata. Juxtaposing this vertical gradient is a horizontal gradient dictated by a prisoner’s proximity to these cores. Entry level prisoners in G4, G3, and G2 are placed furthest from the cores.

Those nearest the cores enjoy larger cells with greater access to natural light, ventilation, etc. Liberation from the Synopticon is entirely dependent on the prisoner’s cooperation and graduation through all levels of the system.”
                                                                                                                -Ryan Botts
All Text and Images via: https://arch.rice.edu/

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