On January 25, AIA New York held an open meeting inviting members and individuals across the community to engage in a broad discussion on the future focus of the chapter’s Architecture for Justice Committee. The event drew over 100 participants who voiced their concern over the profession’s role in the criminal justice system and identified next steps following a year of turmoil brought on by the pandemic and a heightened understanding of the systemic injustices in our country.

Courtney Bryan, Executive Director of the Center for Court Innovation, provided an overview of the work of her organization, its research initiatives, and the reform movements that have been shaping justice conversations over the past 15 years. Following the event, Bryan provided a list of readings and resources for those who wish to further explore topics related to justice reform and racial justice.

Bryan’s remarks were followed by two group brainstorming exercises The first activity generated a word cloud based around the question: “Which topics would you like to see this committee cover?” Items that rose to the largest font included restorative justice, design justice, racial equity, jails, healing, kindness, social justice, and unconscious bias.  As architects, we understand that a primary role of design is shaping spaces to embody and promote justice. As such, the second exercise asked: , “What spaces are part of a justice system, or should be?”  The final outputs for each of the two exercises can be viewed here.

The meeting on February 22, will delve into initiatives the committee might undertake to address the topics raised and spend time considering who else needs join the conversation to have broad stakeholder participation. In March, we expect to engage with the committee mission statement and name. In the meantime, the call for applications for co-chairs is open to anyone interested in steering these efforts.