In the spring of 2017, the City committed to closing the jails on Rikers Island by creating a network of four modern, more humane jail facilities in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. This smaller borough-based jail system, built upon a foundation of dignity and respect, will house a jail population of no more than 3,300 people, reflecting the reality that both historic crime rates and the  impulse to jail our way to public safety have continued to fall off.

The borough-based system will strengthen connections to families, attorneys, courts, medical and mental health care, and faith and community-based organizations. Being closer to home and transit will enhance the network of support systems for people who are detained and help prevent reincarceration.

The new facilities will be designed to foster safety and wellbeing for both those incarcerated and for staff, providing space for quality education, health, and therapeutic programming. Modern facilities can also serve as a catalyst for positive change in the community and the broader justice system.

New York City is reimagining its jails as civic assets that will provide a better life for those who are detained and work in them, support smoother transitions back home, and serve as resources for the community.


Borough-Based Facility Design Principles & Guidelines

Program Goals

The City’s overarching goals for all component projects undertaken as part of the Borough-Based Jails Program (BBJ Program), including new detention facilities and Early Works, such as dismantle and swing space projects, are described below.

  1. Design and construct new detention facilities grounded in dignity and respect that offer dedicated spaces to promote better connections to families, attorneys, courts, medical and mental health care, education, therapeutic programming, and service providers. These detention facilities must enable effective and tailored programming, provide appropriate housing for those with medical and mental health needs, and facilitate enhanced opportunities for stable reentry into the community.
  2. Design and construct new component projects of the BBJ Program that provide a safe, humane, secure, and efficient environment for all those who work, visit, or are in custody within the projects.
  3. Design and construct new detention facilities and other component projects that are beacons of exemplary public architecture that thoughtfully respond to urban context, contribute positively to the character of the surrounding neighborhood and streetscape, and serve as civic assets for all New Yorkers.
  4. Design and construct new Facilities that strive to relate to the city it is in and create a sense of place for the citizens it serves. As good civic architecture, the Facilities must be welcoming and inclusive, serving all regardless of ability, race, creed, or gender. The Facilities must embody a generative spirit that does not stagnate on a fixed identity and is uplifting rather than authoritative, empowering the people and community it serves.
  5. Provide exceptional design based on thoughtful and engaging communication with City agencies and community partners.
  6. Minimize construction- and operations-related impacts to neighboring properties and facilities and the community at large; Achieve dust and noise mitigation standards that exceed minimum regulatory thresholds.
  7. Provide safety in and around the Project site.
  8. Optimize overall operations and maintenance efficiency.
  9. Complete the Project within budget and on schedule.
  10. Proactively seek innovative solutions to accelerate the Project schedule while controlling cost and maintaining quality and safety.
  11. Provide robust minority- and women-owned business enterprise participation.
  12. Exemplify the City’s principles of Project Excellence, including excellence in design, construction, and project delivery.


Latest Updates

Construction Updates

Latest Documents

Design Input Workshop: Manhattan