Skagit County Community Justice Center

Architect: DLR Group

Location: Mount Vernon, WA

Awarded a publish

The Skagit County Community Justice Center’s central goal is to improve inmate rehabilitation and officer wellness.

The project is shaped by an impassioned discussion about time a corrections officer spends inside the jail during his/her career. A 25-year officer spends 56,250 hours or six years of their life in the facility by the time they retire. In most cases the officer will spend more time in the facility than any inmate who passes through.

"There was a lot of discussion about the family friendly character of the project, including the humane and welcoming entry sequence, and the integration of visitation and program spaces into a non-institutional environment." ~ Jury comments

Design used these facts to motivate many discussions, and to guide the team through the project with these principles: design the facility for inmate rehabilitation rather than incarceration; design for an enhanced officer and employee wellness experience; and view the building itself as an asset to the community rather than a liability. The design conveys a functional simplicity, consisting of a modern Northwest material palette integrated with the site and local environment. The site work utilizes the constraints of the property to achieve a greater civic presence. The facility includes 400 detention beds, providing a mix of classifications and housing types including: Two 22-bed single cell housing pods, three 64-bed quad cell units and two 44-bed double cell units. The facility also has four dormitory housing units for inmate workers, work release and other alternative program inmates.

Two major program components largely defined the exterior—the housing unit, which is 200 ft long, and the corridor "building spine," which connects all the building elements along its length. The housing unit used pre-cast concrete panels with an exterior texture to break down the overall scale of the mass. The exterior palette of concrete, wood, steel, and glass enhanced the civic presence interfacing with the general public.

Additional information

Engineer-Building Performance: DLR Group

Engineer - Civil: KPFF

Engineer - Electrical: DLR Group

Engineer - Mechanical: DLR Group

Engineer - Security: R+N Systems Design

Engineer - Structural: DLR Group

Interior & FFE: DLR Group

Landscape: Aspen Design


Mallory Scott Cusenbery, AIA (Chair), RossDrulisCusenbery, Sonoma, California

Hon. Celeste F. Bremer, United States District Court | Southern District of Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa

Michael Cox, AIA, Wold Architects and Engineers, Saint Paul, Minnesota

Julian Jaffary, B.Arch, OAA, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Thomas Pulaski, Prince William County Police Department, Woodbridge, Virginia

Arthur Thompson, AIA, SMRT, Portland, Maine

Charles W. Wend, Mount Vernon, Washington

Image credits


Sam Van Fleet Photography


Sam Van Fleet Photography


Sam Van Fleet Photography


Sam Van Fleet Photography


Sam Van Fleet Photography