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Iowa State Penitentiary

Fort Madison, Iowa

The organization of collegiate campuses inspired the layout of this eight-building penitentiary. Three housing units, separate buildings for medical and mental healthcare, an administration building and program spaces for food services, laundry and other support activities surround a large central quad. The low sloping metal roofs and simple geometric building forms reflect Iowa’s agrarian vernacular architecture.

Evidence-based practices drawing on Iowa’s extensive experience in offender treatment guided the team’s programming and design decisions, leading to the creation a secure campus that enables staff to positively impact the behavior of offenders.

To create a less institutional-feeling environment, the design gives offenders and staff expansive exterior views while drawing large amounts of natural light deep into the core of the buildings. Access to natural ventilation and sophisticated automated temperature controls improve energy efficiency while contributing to health and well-being. Natural plants and healing gardens incorporate the Iowa landscape.

The team achieved LEED Gold certification for this 800-bed maximum-security correctional center, which replaced the state’s 19th-century facility. This new prison houses 350 more inmates than possible in the previous facility and was designed to use about half the amount of energy to operate.

HOK collaborated on the design with Durrant and Venture Architects.

472,000 sq. ft. / 43,850 sq. m.
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