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Re-Imagining a Jail for Oklahoma City

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Re-Imagining a Jail for Oklahoma City

ARCH 4970/5970

Marjorie Callahan

The University of Oklahoma team is led by Professor Marjorie Callahan, a licensed architect with 30 years of experience and professor at the OU Gibbs College of Architecture (GCA), and supported by Shane Hampton, director of the OU Institute for Quality Communities (IQC), an outreach center that supports community-driven planning and design processes. Oklahoma County Commissioner Carrie Blumert will represent the team in building critical partnerships with appointed and elected leaders. Dream Course impacts bringing experts globally into the forum of understanding.

Phase One: Building on Past Results

Emerging research suggests design can impact criminal justice outcomes like recidivism. During a recent course, students studied precedents and philosophies from global prison and jail designs, and presented findings to community partners, ReMerge Oklahoma. This proposal builds on these findings to apply them to a pressing challenge in Oklahoma County.

Phase Two: Dream Course

Professor Callahan will engage students to consider new concepts for criminal justice design in Oklahoma. Questions remain: Where should these facilities go? How shall they integrate within a neighborhood of supporting services? How should the facility be designed? Through community engagement, students and stakeholders will collectively explore the notions of designing jail facilities and cells in a city setting, informed by studies (guest speakers) in diverse fields like social science and neuroscience. 

A grand jury found that a major problem of the current jail in Oklahoma County was a failure to promote transparency and engage the community in the design process. Student-led community engagement efforts will be directed by IQC. Community participants add valued perspective and critique to student designs, leading to new approaches to architecture and urban design for jail in cities.

Phase Three: Public Exhibit

The outcomes from the class will be featured in a Spring 2021 exhibit. The exhibit will invite the public to learn about challenges facing criminal justice facilities, question challenging philosophical issues, and consider possibilities for jail facilities that improve positive outcomes.

Public Lecture Series

Information for this Lecture Series will be posted here as it comes in.

A Tale of Two OKC Jails - A Comparison Study: Oklahoma County Jail & US Bureau Prisons Federal Transfer Center at Will Rogers Airport

Monday, August 31, 2020
12:45 pm - 1:35 pm
Gould Hall 395

Lecture Flyer

Architect Rainey High

Rigor in Reimaging - Testing Expectations/Prototyping for Jails

Image of Emily Baker

Monday, September 28, 2020
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Monday, October 12, 2020

12:45 pm - 1:35 pm

Zoom Link - Open to the Campus Community

Lecture Flyer

Emily Baker
Assistant Professor of Architecture
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design

Emily Baker, an assistant professor of architecture in the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, is one of 13 leaders across the structural steel design, construction and academic communities to be honored in this year's awards program. The awards were set to be presented during 2020 NASCC: The Steel Conference, planned for April 22-24 in Atlanta, but the conference was canceled due to concerns over COVID-19.

Baker was selected to receive the Early Career Faculty Award, which recognizes faculty who demonstrate promise in the areas of structural steel research, teaching and other contributions to the structural steel industry. She is the first architecture professor to be recognized with this award.

"It's wonderful to be recognized for work that is an offshoot of my own fascination," Baker said.

Baker, a Fay Jones School alumna, Bodenhamer Fellow and Arkansas native, was first introduced to steel fabrication when she took a welding class at Batesville High School. She used those skills again during design-build projects as an undergraduate in the architecture program at the U of A.

Baker first started exploring the digital side of steel fabrication when she attended Cranbrook Academy of Art for graduate school, as the school had a CNC (computer numerically controlled) plasma cutter. Visiting construction sites got her thinking about the process of constructing a building.

"I was imagining new ways that the same act could happen in the face of emerging technologies," she said. "That really set me on the path that I'm on."

While in grad school, Baker also developed Spin-Valence, which is a flat pack space frame system. She said she starts with a sheet of material, often steel, then cuts a pattern into it and then folds it into a structural system. She's used the Spin-Valence system in a variety of projects, including a permanent installation at Wilson Springs Preserve in Fayetteville.

In addition to experimental projects, Baker said she also likes projects that are "a little more grounded, where we can take a slightly different approach but also do something that's immediately usable."

Baker recently completed a steel stair with a folded structure for a residence designed by Bradley Edwards Architect. She is working on a sculpture for the Honors College along with Edmund Harriss, a U of A math professor in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences that was a product of a class taught by Harriss and Carl Smith, U of A landscape architecture professor in the Fay Jones School.

Many times, Baker's design process starts with just a piece of paper. With her emphasis on folding steel, it helps to start with something physical.

"Paper serves as a good simulation of folding at a larger scale," she said.

Baker said her process of starting with making physical objects helps her work stand out. She said that digital tools today are so powerful that many researchers who engage in digital fabrication start with an idea on the computer.

"I decided to come from the physical and then translate what I found into something that's computational," she said. "You end up with a different result when you start digitally than when you start with something physical."

For Baker, one of the most valuable parts of the design-build experience is learning how materials work together. She said that engaging with design in this way grabs people's focus and attention in a different way than just reading, writing or drawing.

"We have built-in intelligence in our sense of touch," she explained.

Baker said she tries to use the act of making in her teaching as much as possible. In spring 2019, Baker led a studio focused on designing play structures in collaboration with the Scott Family Amazeum. 

"It was a fun way to get students involved in that kind of thinking, while allowing them to experiment and design with emerging technologies, particularly in steel, but all kinds of materials as well."

The other valuable lesson students learn when experimenting with materials is how to use failure as an asset. She said students can learn more from a failure than they can when something works out the first time.

"I think it's a really good thing for your imagination to get thwarted," Baker said. "One of the things I like to talk to students about is to fail early and often. Failure is useful."

Baker said the Fay Jones School has been supportive of her work with steel fabrication. She leads the digital steel lab in the Government Avenue Build Lab, which provides space and equipment where she can manipulate steel both digitally and physically.

"It's wonderful to have that dedicated space where I can do my own work that can support teaching, too," she said. 

Influences “The Issues of Safety”

Image of Linda Nubani

Monday, October 26, 2020

12:45 pm - 1:35 pm

Zoom Link - Open to the Campus Community

Lecture Flyer


Linda Nubani

Masters: Master of Architecture, University of Michigan and University of Cincinnati.
PhD: PhD Architecture (environment and behavior/criminology), University of Michigan.

Linda Nubani is an assistant professor of interior design and Director of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design Program at Michigan State University. She holds a PhD in Architecture (with a focus on Criminology) from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (2006), and Master’s degrees in Architecture from the University of Michigan (2003) and the University of Cincinnati (2001). Prior to joining MSU, Nubani was involved in a number of things: 1) She co-founded APID in Dubai, the Association of Professional Interior Designers; 2) In 2006, Nubani co-founded the Green Buildings Conference that has become very active in many countries around the Gulf region, 3) In 2008, she co-founded the Italian Architecture Magazine Compasses in Dubai, 4) Also in 2008, Nubani founded an interior design firm and became a certified professional interior designer, and in 2014, she became a certified Life Safety consultant. She has designed more than 200 projects in the Middle East, France, Spain and the U.S. (Design + Build, Design + Supervision).

In research, Nubani is an expert in the use of space syntax, virtual reality and visibility graph analysis in neighborhood applications (e.g., motor vehicle theft, burglaries) and building applications (e.g., active shooter prevention in buildings, violence in hospitals). She has a strong passion in the topic of crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED). Additionally, she chaired the 50th EDRA (Environmental Design Research Association) conference in New York in May 2019 and has become chair of the board of directors to EDRA in August 2019. Nubani is actively working on several grants addressing crime and violence: 1) In Michigan, she worked with public schools to  address Crime Preventions through Environmental Design, and worked with four cities to co-create crime prevention policies with communities using CPTED and placemaking strategies, 2) In Florida, she is working to address the use of design strategies to combat violence and active shooting in four hospitals’ emergency departments, and 3) She is working with a number of correctional facilities in different states to address the wellness and safety of inmates and staff.

Influences “Lead for Change in Oklahoma”

Image of Tricia Everest

Monday, November 2, 2020

12:45 pm - 1:35 pm

Zoom Link - Open to the Campus Community

Lecture Flyer


Tricia Louise Everest is a native of Oklahoma City and fourth-generation Oklahoman. She graduated from Casady High School before earning her Bachelor of Science Degree from Vanderbilt University in 1993 and, after returning home to Oklahoma, her Juris Doctor from the University of Oklahoma College of Law in 2003. She also holds an Honorary Doctorate in Humanities from Oklahoma City University.

Her professional law career led her to the Attorney General’s office where she was Assistant Attorney General representing the State of Oklahoma. Everest serves as a trustee of the E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation and chair of Inasmuch Foundation’s Advisory Committee, continuing her family’s legacy of philanthropy while simultaneously crafting her own.

Everest focuses her efforts and time on leading initiatives designed to help people find hope and purpose by creating pathways for stronger lives. She plays an integral role as the founding chair of Palomar, Oklahoma City’s Family Justice Center which removes barriers for abuse victims to access the services they need. She is the founding chair of ReMerge, which diverts mothers from prison and empowers women to build healthy foundations for themselves and their children. Other philanthropic endeavors of Everest include chair of Allied Arts, past-chair of YMCA—the organization’s first female chair in its 128-year history, and service on numerous nonprofit boards. Recognized by United Way of Central Oklahoma as the John and Berta Faye Rex Community Builder Honoree in 2019, Everest was also named Societies Philanthropist of the Year in 2012 and received the Lee Allen Smith Oklahoma Legacy Award in 2013.

Everest loves the outdoors, relaxing on the lakes in Michigan, and hiking the mountains in Colorado. Always an adventurer, she has hiked the Swiss Alps and followed the Raika, a tribe of nomadic herders in India.

Influences “Lead for Change in Oklahoma”

Image of Tricia Everest

Monday, November 23, 2020

12:45 pm - 1:35 pm

Zoom Link - Open to the Campus Community

Lecture Flyer


Jacob R. Moore
Associate Director
Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture
Columbia University

Jacob Moore is a critic, curator, and editor based in New York. Prior to joining the Buell Center, he worked as an editor at Princeton Architectural Press. Moore received a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from Columbia College at Columbia University, and a Masters of Science in Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices in Architecture from Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. His work has been exhibited internationally and published in various magazines and journals including ArtforumFuture Anterior, and the Avery Review, where he is also a contributing editor.

Influences “Oklahoma County Courthouse”

Image of Tricia Everest

Monday, November 9, 2020

12:45 pm - 1:35 pm

Zoom Link - Open to the Campus Community

Lecture Flyer


Natalie Mai
District Judge

The Architecture OU Dream Course now invites the legal perspective to the challenging issues facing our Jail in Oklahoma City. District Judge Natalie Mai presides over the courtroom that moves ‘detainees’ to the Oklahoma County Jail (the jail in Oklahoma City). In the United States, as we all know, a person is innocent until proven guilty. And, as the County Commissioner Carrie Blumert noted as owners of the jail, we are not in control of the numbers or the overcrowding in our jails -look to the Judges. 

Repairing Furniture & Humanity

Image of Meg Callahan

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

12:45 pm - 1:35 pm

Zoom Link - Open to the Campus Community

Lecture Flyer


Meg L. Callahan / Pete Murphy
Rhode Island School of Design

Influences “Designing for Trauma”

Image of Tricia Everest

Monday, November 30, 2020

12:45 pm - 1:35 pm

Zoom Link - Open to the Campus Community

Lecture Flyer


David McLeod. Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Knee Center for Strong Families Coordinator