Mule Creek Infill Complex: Adding Capacity and Enhancing Services

A recently constructed correctional facility project in Ione, California, represents a significant step forward for the state as it continues to address prison overcrowding and reduce its prison population. The 550,000-square-foot Mule Creek Infill Complex has added 23 medium-security buildings, including six dormitory-style housing units with 1,584 beds, to the state prison facility that originally opened in 1987.

Meeting Special Needs

The $331 million facility enables the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to expand its programs with spaces for rehabilitation classes, academic and vocational education, a library, family visits, counseling, and medical and dental care. The complex also provides flexible housing and support spaces for inmates with disabilities and medical or mental health treatment needs, with one of the six housing units designed for enhanced outpatient programming for those requiring specialized mental health services.

Mule Creek Infill Complex 1

As associate architect and subject matter expert, we worked closely with prime architect HOK and the design-build contractor, Hensel Phelps, so that the facility would meet programmatic needs for security, safety, and an array of medical and rehabilitative services. We designed the dormitories with abundant natural light and the day rooms with excellent acoustics, supporting a quieter, more therapeutic environment for both inmates and staff. Designed and constructed to LEED® Silver certification standards, the buildings also feature numerous measures to boost energy efficiency and minimize operational and maintenance costs.

Mule Creek Infill Complex 2

Design-Build Approach

The entire team, which also included Gilbane Building Company and Kitchell in partnership as construction manager, coordinated closely with CDCR throughout the two-year project, which was completed earlier this year. I've been working on justice facilities for 32 years, and this was one of the most successful projects I've experienced, despite its size, complexity, aggressive schedule, regulatory requirements and a number of site challenges. Communications by the design-build team throughout the project were top-notch, and helped us accelerate the schedule by two months. We also worked closely with the state fire marshal, who regularly visited the site and helped the design team work through project issues in a timely manner.

Mule Creek Infill Complex 3

CDCR has successfully used the design-build construction approach to expedite its response to federal mandates to mitigate prison overcrowding. In addition to the Mule Creek Infill Complex, Dewberry, HOK, and Hensel Phelps also teamed on the design-build conversion of the DeWitt Nelson Youth Correctional Facility in Stockton to create a new adult healthcare institution. These ambitious projects are helping the state provide the medical and mental healthcare, counseling, and rehabilitative training that inmates require.