Magazine article Corrections Forum

Designing a Correctional Kitchen: Issues to Consider

Magazine article Corrections Forum

Designing a Correctional Kitchen: Issues to Consider

Article excerpt

Correctional kitchens prepare and serve thousands of hot, balanced meals a month. Multiply that by years and one has an idea how durable and efficient the kitchens and the equipment in them must be in order to keep turning out meals day in and day out, year after year.

Planning and designing a kitchen is a multi-phased process. Typically, the kitchen design project management process includes a design and planning phase; procurement and construction; and installation and post-construction. The first step is a pre-design meeting with the design or architectural firm to determine the facility's needs and requirements, after which the firm will provide CAD (Computer-Aided Design) schematic design drawings with general layout and generic equipment. The CAD designs are then reviewed extensively by all those involved at the correctional facility and state DOC or other agency, and choices narrowed down to two or three. Preliminary kitchen design plans can then be made on CAD, complete with budget estimates. The design plans are then subjected to regional regulatory review. The firm then creates and provides working drawings and specifications for the design plans approved, including project cost quotations, and a final design is chosen. At this point, facility administrators and architects are also meeting with engineers, consultants, and contractors.

During the procurement and construction phase of the design project, bids are solicited by the firm for all phases of construction as well as for kitchen equipment and furniture. Project tracking and expediting is the firm's responsibility; many have a field coordinator who will work with contractors, consultants, engineers and architects to ensure that everything is on track. The field coordinator will also work with the kitchen management to ensure that the kitchen equipment is installed properly, coordinate training on the new equipment, and review warranties and service contracts.

A correctional facility that is considering designing or remodeling its kitchen or foodservice area should check that the architectural design firm it selects is experienced in corrections kitchen design. One easy way to do this is to visit the company's website and review its previous clients, which are usually listed. Photos of the project can also provide clues as to whether or not the company is a suitable match.

Another way to select a knowledgeable, experienced corrections kitchen design firm is via word of mouth. Determine what firms other correctional facilities contracted with when they remodeled or designed their kitchen, and talk to the kitchen management or administrator to find out how satisfied they were with the project, the process, and the firm.

Safety is the most important element in designing a correctional kitchen, according to Jeff Osatinski, director of marketing for Systems Design International (SDI), Centennial, Colo., which designs about 50 correctional kitchens annually, from small juvenile facilities to large prisons nationwide. "There can be lots of good hiding spots [in a correctional kitchen]."

It also must be large. "The kitchen has to enable people to create food in bulk, at one time," explains Osatinski. "The design of a corrections kitchen differs so much from that of a commercial facility."

It's important to get a specialist to help in the planning to avoid obvious mistakes. The designer usually recommends items but the level of the final equipment selections are left to the prison official. …

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