2019 Fall AAJ Conference

Starts:  Oct 23, 2019 08:00 AM (PT)
Ends:  Oct 26, 2019 05:00 PM (PT)

2019 Fall Conference

Crossing Borders:  Community Focused Justice Interventions

In recent years, the Academy of Architecture for Justice has gathered to exchange stories and ideas about architecture and social justice, interdisciplinary practice, and most recently, enlightened approaches to mental health and humane treatment of the human beings in the criminal justice system.

In 2019, we will come together in San Diego to have a conversation about communities. How can architecture be supportive of community initiatives that address long standing social fractures and move us forward, together, as we take on new and increasingly difficult challenges?

Alternatives to detention, innovative specialty courts focused on therapeutic or restorative justice, increased focus on outward facing community services, community policing, and critical community conversations are all reshaping the way we consider the design and impact of justice facilities - at all scales, from national to intensely local in nature.

Law enforcement priorities are too often impacted by a resource-limited environment, in which the competing demands of addiction, homelessness, and mental health crises have made policing more varied and challenging than ever.  The education needed to understand these complex problems, goes beyond deep medical and pharmacological knowledge, but also one schooled in the means of de-escalation and the move toward a guardian mindset.

In San Diego, we will meet in the shadows of prototypical sections of a vast physical barrier, inherently a symbol of division and difference. With the wall as a backdrop, we will also consider the unseen borders that often divide our communities in highly visible ways.

The most notorious social divides in our country: Delmar Boulevard in St. Louis, 9th Avenue in Louisville, Troost Avenue in Kansas City, and 8 Mile Road in Detroit are all examples of how underserved communities struggle as essential resources are diverted, and where a lack of trust in the justice system has become pervasive. In San Diego, more than 5 million people live together at the border, under very different circumstances. How we, as planners and designers, address these inequalities will have a profound impact on our future, and provide an opportunity for innovation related to social impact that has become an essential component of architectural practice.

Please, come and join us in San Diego, where we will explore opportunities that arise when we choose to consider our borders as what unite, rather than divide us.


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Meeting Space & Housing

The US Grant Hotel is the host hotel for the 2019 AAJ Fall Conference!

THE US GRANT, a Luxury Collection Hotel
326 Broadway San Diego, CA 92101

A limited block of rooms has been reserved at the US Grant for your convenience. You are responsible for securing your own hotel reservation.  

Reservations must be received no later than 5:00 pm PST on Tuesday, October 1, 2019 to secure the group rate; however, the block may sell out prior to the deadline.
To make your reservation, contact the hotel  via call-in at to their central reservations line at 866-837-4270.  Mention the meeting group code (AAJ Fall Conference) to receive the group rate of $239.00 per night with 12.77% tax for standard guestrooms. To make your hotel reservation online, please use the following link: AAJ Fall Conference

You will need to present a credit card upon check-in to cover any incidental charges or additional room nights.  If you do not utilize your room or fail to cancel before 12:00pm PST 24-hours prior to the day of your arrival, you will be billed for any no-show penalties assessed by the hotel. Deadline for changing/cancelling a reservation is 12:00pm PST 24-hours prior to the day of your arrival by contacting the hotel directly at (619) 232-3121.


*Schedule is subject to change

Wednesday, October 23


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Membership Meeting


AAJ Research and Technology Meeting

The 2019 conference theme of crossing borders along with treatment initiatives and reducing recidivism are some of many proposed research topics. Conference participants offer the needed expertise required to move the research agenda forward. In round-table format, current subcommittee members will briefly report on progress from last year’s round-table and lead and moderate further discussion to move toward more immediately executable research while formulating longer team action


Emerging Professionals: Preparing for a better tomorrow

The AAJ Emerging Professionals Committee is working together on a group paper related to the Fall Conference theme: Crossing Borders:  Community Focused Justice Interventions.  During this workshop we discuss emerging issues and concerns in our communities and how our justice system should be flexible in response to our changing society.



Tour Superior Court of California 
San Diego, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP: The new Superior Court of California San Diego consolidates San Diego County's criminal trial, family, civil, and probate courts into a 24-story downtown tower.


Exhibitor Networking Reception


Plenary: Welcome to San Diego

Shelley Zimmerman is a 35-year law enforcement professional recognized for community outreach initiatives and innovative solutions to achieve safer neighborhoods. During her tenure as Chief of Police, San Diego experienced historic low crime rates, including the lowest homicide rate per capita of any of the largest cities in the country. In 2017, the City of San Diego had the lowest overall crime in the past 49 years and was named the safest large City in America. Continuing to serve, Shelley recently partnered with National University as a chancellor appointed professor, focusing on public safety and leadership. Please join us as Shelley welcomes attendees to San Diego and provides an introduction to the challenges and opportunities related to criminal justice in her home town.


Exhibitor Networking Reception

Thursday, October 24


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Exhibitor Networking Breakfast 


Plenary: San Diego Misdemeanants At Risk Track

As a means of opening the discussions and sessions that will define and begin to answer the question: how can architecture be supportive of community initiatives that address long standing social fractures and move us forward, together, as we take on new and increasingly difficult challenges? We are providing a panel of local and national innovators who will share stories from their front-line efforts to reform the criminal justice system at the community level. In particular, this panel discussion will highlight the successes of the S.M.A.R.T. program in San Diego, which attempts to stop the revolving door of low-level misdemeanor offenders who cycle through the system without access to services, coordination of care, or meaningful incentives to engage with social service providers. To stop this revolving door, the City Attorney’s Office, in collaboration with the San Diego Police Department and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, created the S.M.A.R.T. (San Diego Misdemeanants At Risk Track) Program. In addition, the panel will discuss the impacts of homelessness, addiction and mental health on law enforcement and the strain these place on communities, as they wrestle with the challenges that surround the trafficking of fentanyl and other illicit drugs, and the ethics of harm reduction strategies and safe injection sites in communities.

The plenary will feature a panel including former San Diego Police Department Chief Shelley Zimmerman, San Diego Assistant Attorney John Hemmerling, Undersheriff Mike Barnett and Reentry Services Manager Christine Brown from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, and Inspector Ian Upton from the Vancouver Police Department




Concurrent Sessions

A: Countryside Kicks It Up Along “The Mother Road": Aiming to become the first Net Zero Public Building in the State of Illinois when it opens this summer, this suburb on Chicago's southwest border and along the famous Route 66 made many strategic decisions on their approach to sustainability and community engagement to kick it up a notch.

B: An Inclusive Process to delivering an Inclusive Courthouse:The Abbotsford Law Courts (ALC) Project embodies this shift in the delivery of justice services from a fragmented approach, where justice partners function physically apart from one another, to an inclusive facility where users can find all justice services under one roof including members of judiciary, court administration, sheriffs, prosecution services, probation, a justice access center and legal aid. 

C: Southern Border Stories: People, the Wall and Architecture: Within the context of these critical points of international exchange, presenters will share stories, local influences and architectural solutions for three U.S. Ports of Entry located opposite the border towns of Nogales, San Luis Rio Colorado and Tijuana, Mexico. 





Concurrent Sessions

A: Transforming Oklahoma youth into the Next Generation: The presentation will provide the overall philosophical intent of the project, a master-plan and programming for a replacement campus of the Central Oklahoma Junvenile Center, the D-B criteria program and design, and the final awarded concept.

B: Expanding Access to Justice for All Californians : In the early 2000’s, the Judicial Council of California consolidated oversight and responsibility for court facilities from the counties to the state. This year, a unique collaboration of three teams of court planners was tasked with assisting the Judicial Council on a statewide courthouse prioritization project. 

C: Community Engagement and the Continuum of Care : Alternatives to incarceration and community support mechanisms have a tremendous impact on reducing recidivism. Providing effective treatment options and suitable treatment environments are critical to providing the foundation for behavioral health treatment.




Justice Exchange & Lunch
Vendor led round-table discussions




Plenary: Welcome to America: GSA’s Design Excellence Program at the Border

Aspiring to “embody the finest contemporary American architectural thought”, the GSA’s Guiding Principles of Federal Architecture and Design Excellence Program have propelled the realization of distinguished US Justice Facilities for more than 50 years.  Over the past 15 years this practice of elevating federal architecture has taken hold at the US Border.  And, over the same period of time, focused attention on the architectural meaning of “Welcome to America” - as it relates to the border is inextricably tied to the main stream political issues of immigration and citizenship.  This panel session will gather leading architects of celebrated US Land Ports of Entry, a Design Excellence Program expert from GSA and an authority from Customs and Border Protection to discuss the virtues and challenges of designing and building architecture for the United States Government at the border.





Concurrent Sessions

A:Envisioning and Implementing NYC’s Transition to a Smaller, Safer, Fairer Borough-Based Jail SystemThe City of New York has embarked on an incredibly ambitious Design-Build plan to replace Rikers Island after numerous studies as well as an influential commission’s report. To that end, the City formulated numerous committees starting with the Mayor’s office and filtering to the various agencies that are equipped with the experience and know-how of putting ideas into practice resulting in concept fruition. The architectural and operational programming efforts of the project are nearing completion with a major emphasis on the continuum of the Justice Cycle of which the physical aspects of the jail and its inherent construction is merely a part. Other aspects of the continuum include diversion, re-entry counselling and assistance as well as aftercare. A major influencing factor in the overall continuum is that of behavioral health. All aspects of the program and hopefully the resultant architectural solutions will be influenced by the effect of the physical environment on not only the persons in custody (PIC) but equally important, the staff working in these facilities as well as the families and other professionals that visit.  

B: Breaking Down Barriers between Community Correctional Facilities : It has been widely recognized that the country’s detention facilities have become defacto mental health institutions. This workshop will highlight three topics: (1)The mental health challenges (2) Efforts required to establish a community based mental health center and (3) Juvenile detention “crossing borders” to restorative justice and reunification of youth with their families and communities 

C: "Inside-Out": Communities without Borders: We live in a nation with staggeringly high rates of incarceration and recidivism. Many of us never think about the criminal justice system until it impacts us personally. We’ve discussed the impacts of the built environment on people, but rarely do we discuss the culture of the criminal justice system and how we associate with the system as a society.


Exhibitor Networking Reception 


AIA Justice Facility Review Celebration: Join us as we celebrate the firms and partners that have documented best practices in planning and design for justice architecture. 

*offsite location: Andaz San Diego 

Friday, October 25


Event Item


Exhibitor Networking Breakfast 


Concurrent Tours

A: Las Colinas Women's Detention & Reentry Facility, kmd architects/HMC: The design features a residentially-scaled campus plan concept minimizing the visual “message” of a detention facility. Inmate housing is developed in clusters of from two to four units around exterior courtyards. Administration and inmate visitation buildings are the public face of the facility. The campus was constructed in two phases, maintaining operation of the existing LCDF while the first phase of the complex was being built.

B: El Cajon Public Safety Center, KMA Architecture & McLaren, Wilson, and Lawrie (MWL) as public safety planner: A new 280,000 sf public safety center facility with administrative offices, crime labs, temporary holding cells, an underground firing range, a community room/emergency operations center for use during natural disasters, and a parking structure with vehicle maintenance bays.


Exhibitor Networking Break


Concurrent Sessions

A: ‘All Hands on Deck’ for Raise the Age: The juvenile detention system in NYC was master planned for phased replacement. New York State was one of the last few states automatically prosecuting 16 and 17-year olds as adults. Masterplan implementation screeched to a halt in April 2017 when ‘Raise the Age’ passed based on the fact that prosecuting and placing these youth in the adult system doesn’t work for them—or for public safety. 

B: Next Generation Re-Entry - Overcoming Obstacles and Fears: Napa County has a new re-entry facility where residents who qualify are housed in a protective setting designed to allow them to exit daily to reestablish ties to community and family, attend college or training, or get a job. The facility provides classrooms, counseling, dining (to eat in or take out) in a residential setting to support former inmates as they slowly integrate back into society and even experience minor setbacks along the way. 

C: Envisioning A Spatial Framework for The Six Pillars: Inspired by this year's conference theme "Crossing Borders: Community Focused Justice Interventions", this panel discussion aims to explore the question posed: "How can architecture be supportive of community initiatives that address long standing social fractures and move us forward, together, as we take on new and increasingly difficult challenges?" The Six Pillars from the Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing may inform new spatial ideas in architecture and will be explored during this session.


Plenary Lunch: Where Justice Resides: Designing Public Buildings for Justice and Fairness

In addition to her duties for the U.S. District Court in Des Moines, Iowa, Judge Celeste F. Bremer is passionate about public architecture, and how it creates or reduces stress. Through her work on a variety of Court projects, she has taken to heart the adage that “good design does not have to cost more,” and promotes good stewardship of projects in addition to championing good design solutions to complex program issues. She was a member of the GSA Art in Architecture Committee and Project Design Team for the renovation of the 1932 Courthouse and Federal Building in Davenport, Iowa, which was a 2004-2005 AAJ JFR Citation recipient. From 2008-2011, she served on the U.S. Judicial Conference Committee on Space and Facilities. She has presented at the Harvard School of Design New American Courthouse program, other annual AIA AAJ programs and served on the Jury for the AAJ Justice Facilities Review in 2018. Judge Bremer designed the Images of Justice program for the Eighth Circuit Judicial Conference where participants, including Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Yale Professors Judith Resnik and Dennis Curtis, and a group of judges reflected upon examples of how public buildings signify justice and fairness, or community isolation and exclusion. She is an unwavering vocal advocate of good design, and a frequent author and speaker on how courthouse design influences its occupants and impacts community involvement in the justice system.


Student Presentation

The Woodbury University team has been charged to envision a service hub, or district, within their neighborhood that assists the homeless population: To create an environment that offers assistance and access to shelter, job training, and treatment where the homeless develop assets and skills that sets the stage for meaningful change. Conference attendees will engage with charrette teams for brainstorming and feedback.


Concurrent Sessions

A: Crossing Borders: Linking our Heritage with the Future: The challenges presented in the Douglas County Courthouse in Omaha, Nebraska were representative of those faced in numerous older courthouses throughout the United States and elsewhere.  

B: Court Officers Academy: The Human Face of Justice: This is the story of how the need for a state-of-the-art court officers academy came together with a vision to revitalize three neglected Catholic school buildings in a transitioning urban neighborhood. Located to embed recruits in a community they will serve, the academy sets the foundations for court officers to be a critical bridge between the public and the courts.

C: A More Effective Criminal Justice System- Franklin County: In 2008, the jail incarceration rate in Franklin County, Ohio was 209/100,000 population. In an effort to reduce the jail population, the County developed a comprehensive plan to reduce admissions, shorten lengths of stay, and reduce recidivism. By 2017, the County incarceration rate fell to 171/100,000 population (reduction of 18%) and continues to trend down.


Concurrent Sessions

A: New Toronto Courthouse Case Study: Recent courthouse design evolution is presented using Canadian examples as well as the recently completed Paris Courthouse to set the context for a case study of the New Toronto Courthouse project - a collaboration between RPBW and NORR. 

B: Community Conversation: A Tale of Two Buildings: Driven by a social drumbeat calling for community engagement with public agencies, leaders of Englewood, CO and Tukwila, WA developed plans for new police and justice centers rooted in a response to their changing communities. The need for new buildings provided opportunities to change their respective cities and their social contract with their communities. 

C: Inspiring Justice through Design: NeighborhoodStat (NSTAT) is an accountability and service delivery mechanism implemented in partnership between the NYC Mayors Office of Criminal Justice and the Center for Court Innovation as a part of the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety. NSTAT brings together residents, city agencies and CBOs in a new model that encourages collaborative problem solving to address public safety.

Saturday, October 26


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AAJ Sustainable Justice Workshop: Taking Sustainable Justice Guidelines to the Next Level - Focusing on Continuum of Care

*offsite location NewSchool of Architecture & Design

The AAJ has published the Sustainable Justice Guidelines. This compilation of sustainability goals, metrics, and targets, along with links to the research and built examples that support them, will help to inform all stakeholders in the field of justice architecture of the possibility and potential of building projects to advance shared goals for the justice system and our broader society. The Sustainable Justice Guidelines include 36 detailed strategies supported by evidence-based research and exemplified by AIA award-winning buildings from across North America.

This group discussion will dive into the social structure and best practices for continuums of care; providing feedback from Second Chance’s clientele, their program administration, and the Sustainable Justice Committee, along with conference attendees’ input . The outcome is to take the AAJ Sustainable Justice Guidelines to the next level through this Restorative Justice “Bridging-the-Gap” workshop focused on continuum of care. Our workshops normally consists of focused group discussions led by the co-chairs and others within the Sustainable Justice Committee.



THE US GRANT, a Luxury Collection Hotel
326 Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101
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Bruce Bland