Staten Island Community Justice Hub

Brianna Toussaint
A Community Justice Hub is a place where communities come together to confront and acknowledge their shared trauma in order to heal and create a better future. The Hub is both an alternative and a partner to New York State's Family Court system. The Hub provides support services, legal guidance, and resolution opportunities that are based on the principles of the Restorative Justice movement. The Hub is open yet safe. The Hub is connected to the neighborhood through culture and service. The Hub is public architecture for the 21st Century.

Project Background
The mission of the Community Justice Hub is to stand as a pillar for the Richmond County community by providing resources for domestic wellbeing and connection. By creating an open environment, an alternative to traditional Family Court, we aim to transform the criminal justice system and advocate an ideology of community healing. The Hub acts as a catalyst toward the transition for equitable justice. The Hub approaches family healing and wellbeing from three directions: Healing, support, and action.

The design team developed a program of spaces and activities that are intended to exist adjacent to, and sometime overlap, the functions and services provided by the traditional Family Court next door. The connection is visible yet the two buildings communicate very different values. Design drivers included creating an open, approachable ground floor, engaging the site at its different elevations, and massing that doesn't dominate the neighborhood in an imposing way. The design team worked to not only provide a welcoming and engaging community institution, but to also mitigate noted urban design challenges, such as the automobile focus of the street and the lack of human scale at existing civic institutions.

Family Court vs. Community Justice Hub

The program for the Community Justice Hub includes a variety of activities that range from the very public to the very private. The design team, sensitive to the need for high levels of public safety as well as an individual's sense of security, developed a strategy of layering the building's programming vertically, with the most open and public activities at the first floor and basement, and the most secure and private spaces on the upper floor and roof. Visitors enter the building to experience a double-height public space that hosts exhibitions of local artwork, lectures and films, and a public maker space. Administration offices are on the first floor to provide direct access and transparency to the public.





The design team sought to provide a different spatial and circulation experience for the Community Justice Hub than those found at the more traditional courts buildings at Richmond Terrace. Softer forms, curving transitions, transparency and direct connection to nature help to . . .

The rooftop provides opportunities for views of the harbor, Manhattan and Brooklyn, more direct engagement with nature, and a temporary residential experience that lifts people seeking sanctuary high above street level. The design intention is to create safe, inspiring, and calming spaces for coming together, seeking therapy, and finding positive approaches to solving domestic troubles.

The building section incorporates communicating stairs and openings at the roof which floods the floors with light and promotes views into connecting spaces both horizontally and vertically. The sub-grade basement level, which features a public cafe and contemplative garden, is accessed through a cut in the natural hillside, emphasizing the geology of the site while connecting public spaces directly to the sidewalk at street level. In contrast, the other civic buildings along Richmond Terrace.

Connecting Floors Modulate Public to Private Experiences
The Hamilton Avenue Entrance and First Floor Gallery and Event Space
Semi-Public Library, Meeting and Lounge Space on the Second Floor
Exterior View Showing Offices and Maker Studio on the First Floor