The adaptive use of historic correctional institutions : retaining architectural and historical significance
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Type of Work183 p.
ProgramMA in Historic Preservation
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SubjectsCorrectional institutions -- Remodeling for other use.
Correctional institutions -- History.
Allegheny County Courthouse and Jail (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Historic preservation -- Theses
This thesis examines the adaptive use of historic correctional institutions and the supposition that architectural and historical significance are vulnerable in the reuse process. The thesis investigates three less familiar aspects of significance: interior layout and finishes, spatial relationships in campus settings, and history that encompasses both the original intent and redirected changes over time. Research focuses on three case studies of reused correctional institutions – the Allegheny County Jail, the Sockanosset Training School for Boys, and the Lorton Workhouse. Correctional institutions of the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era were selected as case studies based on the premise that these decades encapsulated America's transition from imprisonment as profit-making reprimand toward rehabilitation. This era also encompassed the waning years of employing America's most renowned architects to design these facilities, which were expressions of civic pride and artistic achievement. Research on incarceration practices since the Progressive Era supports this assumption. Beginning in the 1980s and continuing today, the purpose of imprisonment refocused on mere incapacitation, and good design consequently became an afterthought. This thesis demonstrates that architectural and historical significance can be retained in both public and private reuse projects, in approaches that preserve all, some, or almost none of the physical plant, and at facilities that represent a variety of intentions in their historic context. Retention can be achieved by prioritizing the significance of site features, by providing honest and respectful interpretation, and by voluntarily involving preservation professionals and community members in decision-making that is afforded ample time and informed consideration.