Magazine article Corrections Today

Intelligent Design Decisions Lead to Efficient Construction

Magazine article Corrections Today

Intelligent Design Decisions Lead to Efficient Construction

Article excerpt

The Federal Bureau of Prisons' federal correctional complex (FCC) in Florence, Colo., is the largest FCC in history. Built in 1992 on a 600-acre site, it houses 2,450 inmates in separate facilities for minimum, medium, high and maximum security. This self-sufficient complex also includes a central utilities plant, a central food service storage area, institutions and prison industries warehouses. The completion of this massive project entailed a great deal of planning and coordination by the architect, the program manager, the contractors and the BOP to ensure cost-efficiency in design and construction and operations.

Design and Construction

In the design and construction of any public facility, a primary concern is that taxpayers receive good value for their money. A facility must operate efficiently, provide an acceptable environment for prison employees, fulfill the legal standards for incarceration and comply with local building codes. The facility's design should strike a balance between being flexible and overaccommodating potential change requests. Finally, the facility should be able to handle increases in its population.

A combination of intelligent design choices, prototypical design, pre-engineered systems, on-site management, and local purchasing and employment can help ensure value and efficiency. Following is a discussion of these five potential means of holding down costs and maximizing resources.

Intelligent design choices. Making intelligent design choices means choosing materials and methods carefully. It involves life-cycle costing, trade-off costing and value analysis. The goal is to ensure that a facility is built in the most efficient manner and with the best value in materials, both initially and for the long term.

* Life-cycle costing evaluates the cost of a material or

system over its lifetime, including any required maintenance.

* Trade-off costing evaluates different first-time costs

for alternate materials.

* Value analysis examines how essential functional

requirements are addressed to achieve the lowest possible

cost by taking into consideration initial cost and

life-cycle cost.

At FCC-Florence, the facilities were required to meet a multi-decade life cycle for durability as well as incorporate a number of specialized security features in maximum security units. Therefore, the architects, program managers and corrections officials involved in the project evaluated all potential efficiency ideas carefully. Using more durable materials in some areas, such as brick rather than pre-cast concrete, can be less expensive over the life of a facility.

Prototypical design. Prototypical design, especially in minimum and medium security facilities, can create significant design savings. By taking a proven "footprint" for a facility and adapting it to a particular area, a corrections agency can get the advantages of cost savings while still meeting local design considerations. Using a prototype greatly reduces or eliminates the conceptual and design development phases of the design process, thus shortening schedules and lessening the design effort and corresponding fees. It is essential to develop a prototype that fits the correctional program, not the reverse. Further, prototypes must be site-adapted to accommodate variations in topography and soil conditions.

The soils at FCC-Florence are an expansive clay, requiring more than 7,000 drilled piers and grade beams throughout the complex. The same prototype facility being built in another location would require a foundation appropriate to the specific soil conditions of that location. Although adaptation requires some design expertise, the work is minor compared to the architecture and engineering involved in developing an original design.

When using a prototypical design, project teams can enhance building security by siting the facility to take advantage of local conditions. …

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