Meet your departing Leadership Group member, Linda Bernauer


By the AAJ Communications Committee



How did you get involved in the Justice Market?

LB:  The first corrections project I worked on was in 1991. It was a medical, mental health, geriatric facility for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the first of its kind in Texas. I was assigned as Project Architect during a time when assignments were given based on who was available when the project was awarded, not on whether someone had experience with that particular project type. I had worked for several years on hotels, and it took me a while to stop calling the cells guest rooms.

I didn’t work on another justice project again until 2000, when I worked on the George L. Allen Sr. Civil Courts Addition and Renovation for Dallas County. During the course of that project, my younger son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 6. I came to understand then that his life would very much be affected by the Justice system both through the courts and the detention/corrections system as we navigated our way through the limited treatment options available in the medical community, insurance roadblocks, and the lack of understanding of his illness by the public education system, all of which are fairly broken when it comes to people with mental illness. My focus on justice type projects has continued since then.

What firm do you work for and how long have you been with your current firm?

LB:  I work for HOK. I have worked for HOK for a total of 19 years, but left and returned twice.


Leadership Group (LG)

How did you join the Leadership Group?  Describe past committee work if possible.

LB:  I was invited to join the Leadership Group in 2012. I lost my job at HOK (the 2nd time) in early 2010 due to the Great Recession. Despite the fact that there were no jobs, especially for experienced architects, I knew I wanted to stay connected to Justice architecture. I reached out to Chuck Drulis, with Ross Drulis Cusenbery, whom I had been working with on project prior to my lay-off, and asked him what I could do to help. He sent me the AAJ org chart and suggested that I contact Herb Roth, who was chair of the LG at the time.

I did, and he suggested that they needed a lot of help with Sponsorship. I agreed to take on the task of writing the Propectus documents that we continue to use in soliciting support from partners to fund our conference, the JFR, research and advertising in the AAJournal. Herb and I spent a lot of the summer sending documents back and forth, and he finally published them and sent them to the AIA/AAJ for final development and use.

After part-time re-employment in 2011, I continued as chair of the Sponsorship Committee, and began the task of going thru the AAJ’s master list of sponsors, verifying contact information and updating the list, with the assistance of two marketing professionals recruited by Catherine Chan who was a member of the LG at the time. In August of 2011 I was invited to join the Leadership Group. I attended my first Knowledge Leadership Assembly in 2012, and led a discussion on sponsorship to several other Knowledge Community representatives.

What has been the most rewarding about being  involved in the Leadershp Group?

LB:  The ability to share my commitment to social justice and the humanitarian evolution of the U.S. Criminal Justice system. In 2014, as chair, I drove the Architecture for Social Justice theme for the AAJ Conference in St. Louis, which has been a catalyst for change as a theme for subsequent and future conferences.

How has the Leadership group changed during your tenure?

LB:  Members of the group are far more passionate about leading change in the criminal justice system.

What are the challenges involved in being part of the LG?

LB:  Certainly the time it takes to provide meaningful leadership is the greatest challenge. However, the rewards of witnessing change in progress certainly outweigh the challenges.

How do you see the LG evolving over the next few years.

LB:  I see the LG reaching out to other professions involved in the criminal justice system to forge more partnerships in driving change. I also see them getting more involved in the politics of the CJ system, reaching out to Senators and Representative who are championing Justice reform to let them know that they have a constituency that will support them beyond those incarcerated and their families.

Anything to add?

LB:  I will miss being part of the Leadership Group, but look forward to having more time to develop relationships with members of the CJ client community through the Justice Partners committee.



Linda Bernauer is an architect with more than 30 years of diverse architectural experience in the justice industry. She has special expertise in project management and preparing detailed design-build criteria/bridging packages.

During her tenure at HOK, Bernauer has played a significant role in some of the firm’s most complex justice projects including the Travis County Civil and Family Courthouse in Austin, Texas; the Travis County Correctional Complex in Del Valle, Texas; the San Antonio Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) in San Antonio, Texas; and the Dallas County Youth Village.

Ms. Bernauer is currently ending a five-year term as our Advisory Group Chair.  She previously served as chair of the planning committee for the 2014 AAJ Architecture for Social Justice Conference. A registered in Texas and Utah, Bernauer is a LEED-accredited and NCARB-certified professional. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture from Ohio State University. 


(Return to the cover of the 2016 AAJ Journal Q4 issue)