Observations on 128th st. NYPD Precinct (Rikers Island)

As part of the research on Rikers Island, today I visited the 128th Street NYPD precinct in Central Harlem. Our group understand that by observing other correctional facilities we can collect information about the criminal system in New York. The first interesting point about this building is its location in relation to the neighborhood. By looking at the aerial picture, you can see its strategic position, it sits in a triangular site where St Nicholas Ave meets Frederick Douglas Blvd and has privileged views towards all the streets. The building’s architecture can also speak to the message it wants to convey. It is a very opaque building, grayish in color that stands out in the area by being so different from all the others. A person passing by it could not see what activities are happening inside, because the windows are closed by curtains or have mirror glass. Exposed surveillance cameras are installed on the roof to record the activity outside. All these characteristics contribute to the feeling of being watched during the time that you are passing by it. In addition, the graffiti found in one of the entrances could also be a representation of that. On the top, an eye can be interpreted as the Police is watching you.

Typologies of Police Station can contribute to the lack of interaction between offices and citizens. What if a NYPD building can truly represent an asset for the community, making people feel welcome to interact?

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