Jeanne Gang: The architecture of policing in America

Founder of Studio Gang, Jeanne Gang talks about how architecture can help address police brutality in America.

Studio Gang, founded in the late 1990s by MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang, is an architecture and design practice based in Chicago and New York. The studio operates as a laboratory, working to identify urban patterns and use design to eleviate social and urban issues. Architects, says Gang, can help make a city's problems visual and then propose solutions that can be adapted by cities around the world.

A recent project by Studio Gang looked into the architecture of policing in America. 

“We were really moved by the violence that’s been going on in our country between police and community members,” says Gang, “and we thought what has happened here – what is the architecture of policing in America and I don’t think anyone has really looked at it.” 

Looking at the history of policing, Studio Gang noticed the evolution of the police force from integrated community members watching over their neighbourhoods, to military-style uniformed troops with designated headquarters. 

“The car was introduced and policing was no longer just the community. They would drive around and patrol and the police station become became more of a fortress. Or essentially it is a jail with parking.”

Studio Gang then looked into ways that architecture could improve the relationship between the police and the community they serve. They did this by setting up learning labs inside the stations with computers that the community and the officers could use for free, and by setting up basketball courts in excess parking outside the police stations. These allowed for spaces where the police and the community could interact and form relationships. And this in turn leads to a reduction in crime and the creation of a stronger community.