Header image template 2022

McGill Continues Work on Hamblen County’s New Justice Center

Justice centers are complex structures, not only because of their design, but also because of the role they play in a community, the technology involved, and the security measures that need to be in place.


Hamblen County has been in need of a new justice facility simply because they have outgrown the current one. The facility has been in existence for more than 40 years, and after a few expansions, it still does not satisfy the capacity requirements for the average 400-plus inmates who are held there on any given day. With just 255 beds, the size of the justice center was not only an issue of overcrowding for staff and inmates, but it was also considered a fire hazard. As a result, the County has spent the last several years planning for the justice center’s reconstruction. The goal is to build a facility that can accommodate the inmate population, ensure the safety of citizens living in the surrounding areas, and make sure that they will not have to revisit this problem in the near future.


Hamblen county jail
Hamblen County Justice Center Site Plan

McGill and Moseley Architects were contracted to produce various concepts with multiple input sessions from the owner and steering committee in order to bring this project to life. The committee’s participation was used to guide the first thoughts toward a preliminary design that would fulfill the needs of a new justice center while also being mindful of construction costs.

McGill’s Knoxville Office Manager Jamie Carden said, “Once the concepts were vetted, McGill and Moseley Architects moved forward on preliminary and final designs for all facets. The project was completed and ready for bid in the Fall of 2020. Bids were opened and were higher than anticipated, and after much review and consideration, McGill and Moseley Architects were tasked to value engineer the design. This was accomplished by both parties and a second bid date was made, accepted, and the award was given in December of 2021.”

The McGill team is contributing to the project efforts by providing general project coordination, preliminary construction drawings, participation in design review meetings, final construction documents, final opinion of project costs, and construction phase services.


The main challenge for the project was to fulfill the needed ratios for access, parking, stormwater, and utilities, while working within a highly confined space.

“The first step of the solution was to develop an access to accommodate existing and future traffic within a secured perimeter for justice center and large support vehicles, while providing individual ingress for law enforcement and judicial staff,” explained Jamie. “Once confirmed, the proposed grading of the site was critically related to the multi-story design of the facility and required the existing and proposed utility connections to be closely evaluated to meet very tight tolerances. There was a number of iterations in this step, but after a final plan was developed, the grading and utility proposed improvements allowed the site to meet all local, state, and federal (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements for justice centers.”


Jamie carden
Jamie Carden, PE

Here at McGill, we take great pride in serving the communities that we live and work in. We have a personal stake in our clients’ successes, and we are continually encouraged to see local governments addressing their constituents’ concerns.

Jamie said, “The Hamblen County Justice Center project is located within my home county. For the residents of the county, this has been a project with many highs and many lows over a long period of time. Being a taxpayer directly invested in the project, I feel that the McGill team has carefully designed all the necessary components of a very complex site to be safe and successful for a long period of time. I truly feel the new facility will exceed the expectations of our county’s residents once completed and will be an example for neighboring governments.”


Click here to read about other notable initiatives that McGill has been a part of.


Iredell County Opens Doors to New Detention Center – Project Designed with Safety in Mind

McGill’s Knoxville Office Shows Success in Jefferson City





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