John MacAllister

John MacAllister

Bachelor of Architecture, 1990

Director, KMD Architects

When KMD hired John in 1996 to work in its Justice division, he became interested in the “humanity of architecture” and how to apply evidenced-based design within juvenile justice, detention, and mental health treatment facilities.

He has built more than 35 juvenile facilities, including the San Mateo County Youth Services Center, which has won multiple awards for its environmentally friendly and humane design. John lectures around the country and internationally, encouraging architects to apply principles of humanization to prison and related environments.

“Due to their special populations of youth at risk, juvenile facilities tend to be residential in nature, so you have a greater opportunity to play with color, light, and openness—a lot of amenities you rarely find in an adult facility such as jail or prison. It’s much more redeeming to work with progressive clientele on that type of project, where you can actually create attractive buildings whose physical environments actively contribute to the welfare and well-being of those who live and work there.

“My favorite thing is working with clients and making them happy. Creating unique solutions to complex planning and operational issues. You’re often working with very diverse owner teams, where you have a number of stakeholders with opposing interests. So consensus building is a big part of what I do on a regular basis.” ~ John MacAllister