Date of Submission

Spring 5-3-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Architecture



Primary Advisor

Ed Akins

Secondary Advisor

Elizabeth Martin-Malikian


The origins of American prison design can be traced back to Jeremy Bentham’s theory of the Panopticon developed in the late 18th century. Bentham saw prison reform as a model for how society should function. He believed surveillance was the best way to deter inmates from committing further crimes. Bentham argued for an architecture of surveillance by making every cell visible from one center point with no interaction. Every prison in the U.S since, has adopted this model designed to produce a system of containment and punishment, while removing inmate interaction. With today’s technology, we are no longer shackled to the base model of the Panopticon as an expression of power. My thesis seeks to address the architect’s ethical role in prison design and how presumptions of design can now be. I will assert through my research and through in-depth case-study that the architect may abandon historic prison form to create more human centric spaces that may reverse disturbing trends that plague the contemporary prison system. In a 2014 study, the National Institute of justice found that 60 to 70 percent of inmates who were released from prison returned within in the first three to five years. Further, the United States currently holds the world record for the highest prison population at 2.3 million. My thesis argues for a new prison typology that redesigns the architecture of confinement to positively influence rehabilitation and reintegration. Within my project, the rehabilitation aspect of the prison will look to define three main aspects: 1) daily regime, 2) social interactions, 3) self-reflection and reformation. The project proposes new organizational strategies creating more human centric spaces that will not only rehabilitate, but also question the notion that the ideal prison is not the Panopticon, but the Anti-Panopticon.

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