In November last year, the city issued Request for Proposals (RFP) to encourage design firms to present alternatives to the Rikers Island prison. On Thursday, the city revealed the firm it had selected to move forward with that process: Perkins Eastman.
The architecture firm was awarded $7.6 million to complete a study that will span 10 months, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the selection. As part of its study, Perkins Eastman will look at potentially expanding the current facilities located in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, and the possibility of building a new jail entirely.
While Staten Island isn’t being considered for one of these new locations, the Bronx is. A jail in that borough is located on a barge, and can’t be expanded past its current size, according to the WSJ.
A top priority for the de Blasio administration is to ensure that these redeveloped jails don’t exist in isolated environments like Rikers, and that they are better integrated into the surrounding neighborhoods they exist in.
The de Blasio administration took a major step toward shutting down the Rikers complex earlier this year when it announced that it was closing the first of nine jails on the island. The administration’s plan is to entirely shut down the complex over the next 10 years.
“While this phase was awarded earlier than expected, it is imperative that a 10-month study does not hold up the earliest possible closure of Rikers Island,” said City Council member Keith Powers, the chair of the criminal justice committee on the Council. “It’s my duty to ensure that the administration does everything it can to get Rikers closed quickly, safely, and responsibly.”