Berks County Youth Detention Center

Berks County, PA

In 1995 In a move to consolidate youth detention services and separate detention residents from the shelter/treatment center residents, USA Architects was commissioned to design a 28,000 sf facility as two pods of 18-resident single cells. Working within the challenges of a sloping site, the facility’s design places detention residents on the upper level and the shelter/treatment residents on the lower level.

A common dayroom connects each of the single cells and a “living room” is common to the two pods which accommodates the entire population.  This design feature provides staff with a multitude of operational options.  Doors are electronically controlled from a console in the “living room” or in the event of a crisis, can be overridden from the central control booth, located along the corridor.  Additionally, the corridor connects the detention resident support spaces such as dayrooms, gymnasium/ cafeteria and classrooms, which are located on the upper level.  A secure fenced in vehicle sallyport and recreation yard are located behind the upper level to assure visual and sound separation from the residents on the lower level.  

In 2003, USA designed a 26,000 sf addition as 4 housing pods that accommodates 6 to 12 residents per pod and creates a total of 24 larger bedroom cells for two residents each. The design allows more expansive classification options as many of the residents arrive from other facilities. Additional features include six new classrooms, a health suite and therapy offices. 

The campus is currently licensed to accommodate a total of 72 residents, which is the largest County Youth Facility outside of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

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