Berks County Prison and Medical Center

Berks County, Pennsylvania

Population projections more than doubled the rated capacity of the prison of 340 inmates to over 700.  To accommodate the current and projected increase, the existing building was renovated and expanded. The 120,000 sf addition is designed around a radial design of two-story housing pods, of 48 cells each, accessed from a semi-circular corridor at the lower level. The cells are arranged around a rectangular dayroom where many of the inmate functions are centered. A housing control booth is placed at the center of the semi-circle where the officer has the ability to monitor inmate movement at the lower level and visitor movement at the upper level. Visitors are allowed within the non-secure upper corridor, of the appropriate housing pod, where visits are conducted at secure booths.  The new addition allocates 20,000 sf for a medical/dental treatment center, new intake unit incorporating a vehicle sallyport, visitor’s center, and a central control booth. 


The existing housing wings were converted to specialized housing including a behavioral adjustment unit, segregation housing and minimum security housing. Subsequent alterations were made to the minimum housing units to meet the Federal Standards for the detention of illegal aliens.  A new kitchen/ cafeteria was also designed along with renovations to existing spaces for new classrooms, treatment facilities as well as offices and support spaces. The existing perimeter fence system was replaced and includes intrusion protection and detection.

Effective but cost efficient materials were incorporated including split face masonry, metals, and detention grade windows and doors.  Glass is appropriately angled to minimize sun glare and the walls of the exterior courtyard are painted a black matte finish.

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