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East Union grad’s firm wins national honors
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he Stockton-based architectural firm LDA Partners – headed up by East Union High graduate Eric Wohle – received the highest honor possible from the American Institute of Architects’ Academy of Architecture for Justice for its work on the recently opened Stanislaus County Public Safety Campus in Downtown Modesto. - photo by Photo Contributed

The architectural firm that designed the Manteca Transit Center and Animal Shelter as well as the HOPE Family Shelter restoration has been awarded one of the industry’s highest honors.

LDA Partners, the Stockton-based firm that also designed the Lathrop Generations Center and Public Library building – which achieved LEED Silver Status for its energy efficiency – as well as Manteca Fire Department Station 4, was bestowed the Citation Award by the American Institute of Architects’ Academy of Architecture for Justice for its work on the Stanislaus County Public Safety Campus in Downtown Modesto. 

Stanislaus County was also given the award. 

The annual awards recognized the 15 best projects in justice facility design throughout the country, and just four projects received the Citation Award – the highest honor given. The projects were chosen based on their “functionality, security and safety, technology and accessibility, community impact, sustainability, longevity and aesthetic achievements that respond to the issues surrounding justice design.”

The campus itself comprises four separate projects encompassing a footprint of roughly 250,000 square feet, and represents the largest capital project ever launched by the Stanislaus County government and the first to be completed using funds from the second phase of allotments from Assembly Bill 900 – which created $7.4 billion in bonds for construction in order to relieve overcrowding in state prisons when it was approved by the California legislature. The legislation also pushed to expand county jail housing capacity and provide health care facilities for inmates, and Stanislaus County was awarded $80 million in AB 900 funds to expand the existing jail facility and $40 million in SB 1022 funds for a new re-entry center. Local match funding made up the gap in construction costs, which totaled roughly $137 million for the entire campus. 

“The Justice Facilities Review program honors examples of a broad range of design strategies and depicts the latest trends in the design and construction of justice facilities in the United States, including the implementation of sustainable justice principles,” said LDA Partners Principal Architect Eric Wohle. “These projects demonstrate quality of form, functionality, and current architectural responses to complex justice design issues.”

Wohle is an East Union High graduate.

And since the complex opened, recidivism rates in Stanislaus County have dropped by almost 50 percent – falling from 72 percent to only 38 percent after the facilities were opened and operations were transferred. 

According to Wohle, the “the buildings provide thoughtful and meaningful care for inmates, but when viewed as a whole, the campus offers uniquely comprehensive services” – a departure from the aging 1955 jail that presented its own unique challenges to the county and the officers that maintained it. 

LDA Partners will put their own stamp on criminal justice here in San Joaquin County in the coming months with the design of the new Lathrop Police Department – the first facility designed solely for law enforcement use in the city’s history. That building is being constructed in River Islands, with initial funding provided by the development that will house it, in order to meet the need of serving the growing community. It’s location not far from the Bradshaw’s Crossing Bridge will allow officers to serve both sides of the San Joaquin River but maintain a position within a community that will eventually be home to more than 10,000 residential dwelling units. 

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.