Roy McMurtry Youth Centre
The Body Politic and Architecture The decision made in 2004 by the Provincial Government of Ontario to introduce a new Ministry of Child and Youth Services, as distinct from the adult facilities, has allowed a re-evaluation of the programs and physical expression of them in consideration of youth offenders. Of great interest to the team was the potential that the major innovations distinguishing the new views of this Ministry could be directly expressed in the architecture: Community : Privacy : Safety : Overcrowding : Social Autonomy : Natural Day-lighting : Natural Ventilation : Acoustics : Natural Materials : Physical Activity : Normative Daily Activities : Education Spiritual Choice : Core Therapeutic Facilities : Case Management : Volunteers : Direct Supervision Model : Sustainable Building : Public Participation The Roy McMurtry Youth Centre has been designed from first principles, setting new standards for the comprehensive care of youth offenders and the architecture that supports them. This was a collaborative effort including the Ministry, Infrastructure Ontario, specialists, union members, religious and educational leaders, medical staff, design team members, community members and the general public, that began in 2001 and was completed, in built form, in 2009. The Permanent and Temporary Community The site is an existing 40 hectare institutional site which was initially surrounded by agricultural fields. The Surrounding Community is now single family, suburban housing outside the Greater Community of Toronto. The site was cleared of an existing women’s prison, with the exception of two buildings, which were maintained and renovated as part of the Youth Centre. Eight new buildings have been added to the site to provide services to 192 youth offenders, 32 girls and boys, aged 12 years to 17 years old. The average length of stay is 6 weeks but can be up to two years or more. Over 300 staff members, volunteers and family members and visitors are included in the Immediate Community of the Youth Centre. Each of these Communities were considered in the realization of the project, from the scale of the aggregate built form, earth works and landscaping to the six residential buildings and finally the detailing of the private bedrooms. The secured area of the site is a Campus morphology, reinforcing the Education ideals of the Centre. Contiguous buildings, infill board-formed concrete, masonry panels and Corten steel panels define the garden wall. The Campus is surrounded by a public Park, offering a naturalized landscape including a bio-swale, pond, existing mature trees, hundreds of new trees and a new streetscape. These are intended to generate a positive attitude toward the public occupation of regional suburban roads. Intensifying the public use of the non-secured areas of the site is critical to the success of this Youth Centre, both in promoting a healthy public understanding of the ideals of the institution and the residents understanding of their place in their society. The new public pedestrian and vehicular entrance to the site is aligned with the existing intersection of the regional road and the historic Main Street of the local town of Brampton, now a bedroom community for Toronto. The intent of this gesture is to present a public space as the extension of the Main Street existing old Town Centre. A Sustainable Design This project was the first building designed for LEED Silver Certification by the Province of Ontario, initiating a new standard for environmental stewardship for public buildings in Ontario. This change echoes the Ministry’s ideals of education of the community, staff and residents. The scale of the interventions range from the expansive bio-swale and retention pond to the operating windows in the residents bedrooms. One of the challenging considerations is the indoor environmental qualities because of the security issues resulting in behaviours that are often predictable For example, the smells and sounds of an institution can be very stressful. Something as obvious as natural ventilation, controlled by the resident, can help to reduce this stress. The iconic bars on windows and doors and the sound of clanging locks of many secure facilities are triggers in the negative attitude of many youth offenders. This facility uses solid core, wood veneered doors with quiet action locks throughout the facility. Natural day-lighting in all occupied spaces reduces the need for artificial lighting but also increases a sense of well being for the residents and staff. Material Linguistics The Roy McMurty Youth Centre is occupied by young boys and girls who are not willing residents and many will be angry and act out during their stay. The materials chosen for the Centre are durable and were selected for their performance, variability, texture, acoustic properties, safety and aesthetics. Concrete: The plastic properties of concrete gave the design team varied formwork (smooth faced, board formed, inset photographic liners), finishes (polished, rough, sandblasted, plastered) and component uses (floors, walls, ceilings, interior and exterior furniture, stairs). The concrete floors allowed us to use an in-floor radiant heating system. Steel: Steel was used in the design for its structure, colour, exposure and profile properties. Exposed structural steel columns are integrated into the wall construction. Colour and profile distinguish the grid of the structural frame from the wall plane. Open steel channels are incorporated in the building envelope as scuppers and rain water leaders, transforming the exterior in a rain or freeze cycle into an animated surface of either flowing waterfalls or ice sculptures. Masonry: Masonry gave the design team the ability to use colour, bonding patterns, and unit sizes to define the building volume and wall planes, creating, in plan, a crenellated garden wall and providing interstitial outdoor spaces. The latticed patterning of the residential buildings walls signify the garden at the scale of the commons. Glazing: The variety of glazing types used in this project is extensive because each type was selected to perform to specific requirements and safety considerations. It was critical to the intent of the design that natural day-light was available to every occupied space within the entire institution and this was a challenge and a delight to accomplish.


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