Academy of Architecture for Justice

San Diego Superior Courts

Quick Links

Who we are

The Academy of Architecture for Justice (AAJ) promotes and fosters the exchange of information and knowledge between members, professional organizations, and the public for high-quality planning, design, and delivery of justice architecture.

Welcome message from 2019 AAJ conference co-chairs

By Kerry Feeney posted 10-01-2019 11:44



Welcome to the 2019 Conference of the AIA Academy of Architecture for Justice Knowledge Community in beautiful San Diego, California!

Our conference theme this year – Crossing Borders – is especially relevant now and reflects not only our location near the US border with Mexico but also the increased national focus on constructing barriers on that border. We hope to use this forum to turn the spotlight away from building barriers and instead, have conversations about how justice facilities can make an impact by bringing communities together rather than by creating walls that divide them.

Today, alternatives to detention, innovative courts focused on therapeutic or restorative justice, community policing and outward facing community services have started shaping the way architects design new public buildings and this year we will concentrate on the community face of justice facilities. Our track structure and panels are grouped by theme; Case Studies, Community-Based Solutions and Community Inclusive Processes and we know you will find many useful ideas and concepts in this year’s insightful presentations, thought provoking approaches and innovative solutions to challenges we all face in our practices.

We are excited to start the conference with a tour of one of last year’s JFR winners, the beautiful new Courthouse for the Superior Court of San Diego located on a former brownfield site and designed to be a catalyst for an emerging government district. The tour is followed by an exhibitor welcome reception and opening remarks from your esteemed conference planners and former San Diego Chief of Police Shelley Zimmerman to kick things off on a local community-centric note. Thursday begins with an opening plenary panel led by Chief Zimmerman and other local leaders who will share the collaborative successes that San Diego has taken on with their S.M.A.R.T. program which focuses on intervention with misdemeanants by filtering them out of the criminal justice system and providing them access to services in the community. This process is the result of community-wide cooperation between police, sheriff, and city prosecutor to change outcomes for low level offenders. The panel discussion is followed by exciting concurrent track sessions including a timely plenary presentation on GSA’s Design Excellence Program and the architectural meaning of “Welcome to America” as it relates to the US border. The day culminates with our annual Justice Facilities Review at the Andaz San Diego where we look forward to celebrating the award-winning work of our colleagues and peers while enjoying spectacular views of our host city from the Andaz’ rooftop venue.

Friday morning we travel to Las Colinas Women’s Detention & Reentry Facility, a truly progressive model in jail planning and design and the El Cajon Public Safety Center, a 21st Century Policing-focused facility for police and fire departments situated in an existing Civic Plaza. Tours will be followed by another full day of track sessions interspersed with two special presentations – our lunchtime plenary speaker and student project presentations.

First, the Honorable Celeste F. Bremer from the US Court, Southern District of Iowa, will discuss the image of public buildings and how their design can signify community isolation or justice and fairness and that will be followed by Woodbury University student presentations to small groups where we encourage conference attendees to engage, interact, brainstorm and provide feedback. The conference closes out on Saturday morning with the AAJ Sustainable Justice Workshop hosted by the NewSchool of Architecture & Design.

In recent years, the Academy of Architecture for Justice has gathered to exchange stories and ideas about architecture and social justice, enlightened approaches to mental health and the humane treatment of the human beings as we transform our criminal justice system from historic punitive models into rehabilitative, healing and restorative solutions. We hope this conference raises your awareness, challenges your thinking and compels you to take action to break down barriers and engage in meaningful conversations about these issues and how to solve them. Let’s choose to consider our borders as something that can unite rather than divide us.

We are honored to welcome Woodbury University Faculty and Students to this year’s conference and we want to thank the AIA Knowledge Community, the Leadership Group, the entire planning committee as well as the speakers, esteemed guests, sponsors, vendors, and you for making this conference possible.

Jake Davis, AIA, LEED AP
Justice+Civic Leader | Principal
DLR Group, Chicago, Illinois

Carol S Lanham, AIA, Assoc. DBIA
Program Manager
Kitchell CEM, Los Angeles, California