Academy of Architecture for Justice

San Diego Superior Courts

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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.

AAJ Journal: Get to know your LG

By Kerry Feeney posted 10-16-2020 10:44 AM


Get to know your LG

Kristine Bishop Johnson, AIA 

  • What are you most passionate about in regards to Justice Architecture?

KBJ:       As a justice architect, I’m most passionate about the ability to impact positive change in our communities through civic and justice projects. We are impacting project development, planning and design for all phases of the criminal justice system through our work. Justice architecture seems to be a misunderstood career path. We have access to and influence with politicians, practicioners, judges, community organizations and those who are impacted by the criminal justice system. Our work helps facilitate conversations that spark decisions and ultimately result in facilities that more efficiently serve our communities, the work of the criminal justice system, and benefit society as a whole.


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

KBJ:       I work for AECOM as the firm’s justice lead in the East and national courts lead. I came to AECOM (then DMJM) after graduating from Clemson University and I initially intended to focus on high-security building types, namely embassy design. But within my first few months at the firm, my supervisor described a new opportunity designing a support services building for a correctional facility. I was told the building program was very similar to an embassy, a “contained community with a different security strategy.” I worked on the project and have been working ever since on justice facility planning and design for courts, corrections and public safety projects.


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

KBJ:       I’ve been involved with AAJ since 2007. I met fellow Leadership Group member Melissa Farling at my first conference in Brooklyn and worked with her on the Maricopa County Courts project during that time. The camaraderie and incredible relationships I developed within this community kept me coming back and prompted me to explore how I could become more involved. I’ve attended most of the conferences since joining AAJ and participated as a speaker, track chair and conference chair. I also expressed interest in becoming more involved with the AAJ Leadership Group during planning for the 2018 conference in Jersey City. Melissa and the LG asked me to join them shortly after the conference. Spending the next year together learning about transitions, experiencing the Knowledge Leadership Assembly event and jump starting planning efforts was an invaluable experience. I am currently the LG liaison to the Next Gen and University Outreach Committees. I also partcipate in pandemic planning efforts with the Research Committee and support government advocacy discussions. In addition, I have previously participated with the Communications Committee.


  • What do you expect will be the most rewarding about being involved in the Leadershp Group.

KBJ:       To me, the most rewarding thing about being engaged with the LG and the AAJ community is the experience of fellowship working with such an incredibly passionate group of like-minded professionals. It presents an opportunity to convene and share ideas through committee efforts and conferences to try and better understand how we can positively effect the criminal justice system and our communities through justice reformation with an emphasis on planning and design.


  • What iniatives within the Leadership group do you want to champion during your tenure?

KBJ:       I want to increase the understanding of how court facilities can take on a greater civic role and become places where, in addition to justice being delivered, people can come to continue their journey of healing on the road to becoming better citizens. I think it is important to explore ways to successfully develop more flexible programs that can accommodate a future shift to fewer courtrooms through an increase in problem-solving specialty courts, mediation and community service spaces.


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

KBJ:       As with many issues in today’s society, the biggest challenge with the LG committment is time. Balancing meetings across different time zones while managing a full-time job and family is always tough. I take my commitment to the LG very seriously. Now more than ever, it is important that we share our experiences and make our voices heard within the AIA and in our communities. Social justice and criminal justice reform are complex topics that are currently under scrutiny, that cannot and will not be resolved overnight. Our community brings a breadth of experience and research to the conversation and a passion to be part of the long-term solution and not dismissed as part of the problem.


  • How do you hope see the LG evolving over the next few years?

KBJ:       I hope that the LG will continue to collaborate across knowledge communities to tackle criminal and social justice issues and elevate its experience and research to be a partner in building healthier, more sustainable communities. I’m excited to be part of this dynamic group and encourage others to get involved in this community and bring their perspectives to the conversation in the hopes of reforming the justice system so that it better reflects the values we cherish and exhibit in society as a whole.


Kristine Bishop Johnson, AIA, LEED AP, NCARB 

Justice Market Lead - East

Associate Vice President 



Kristine is an architect for AECOM and serves as the firm’s justice market lead for the East region and national courts lead. With 20 years of experience in the justice sector, her experience ranges from planning through construction administration of courts, detention/correction and public safety facilities. As a judicial planner and project manager, Kristine focuses on engaging stakeholders to understand their organizations’ operations and maximize efficiency. Kristine has been a member of the AAJ Knowledge Community since 2007.