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Justice in Design

Photo: Seth Wenig (AP)

How can we create designs that are more healthy, rehabilitative, and respectful to those in jail and the communities that interact with them?

Speaker Mark-Viverito and the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform, with Van Alen Institute, launched the Justice in Design initiative to develop design ideas for a healthier and more effective New York City jail system. We aim to better understand how jails impact the health and well-being of both the people inside them and the communities in which they sit.

The project aims to develop innovative, realistic, and progressive programming and design guidelines for new jail facilities. The Commission, which was convened at the request of New York City Speaker Melissa Mark-Viterito to explore ways to craft a blueprint for the future of criminal justice in the city, is completing its final report and will use this work to inform jail facility design principles within the report.

To inform the guidelines, a team of architects, environmental psychologists, and incarceration experts will engage with key stakeholders in three different community workshops in the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn.

The selected Justice in Design project team consists of NADAAA, an award-winning architectural and design firm based in New York City and Boston, Susan Gottesfeld of the Osborne AssociationSusan Opotow of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and The Graduate Center, City University of New York, and Karen Kubey, an urbanist specializing in housing and health. Together the project partners represent a collaborative and multidisciplinary team with a range of experience in design, criminal justice, environmental psychology, affordable housing, and community engagement.

Justice in Design is part of Van Alen Institute’s broader inquiry into how behavior is shaped by the built environment, also explored in such initiatives as How Does the Brain Respond to the City?, an EEG workshop in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood presented with Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation’s Cloud Lab; Ecologies of Addiction, a data-collecting research initiative exploring how the built environment impacts addiction in London, organized with Imperial College London’s Sustainable Society Network; and Shore to Core, a design and research competition that includes developing a framework to identify, measure, and analyze relationships between the design of the built environment and individuals’ wellbeing in downtown West Palm Beach, Florida and beyond.

We want your input! How can we design a healthier jail system that is more rehabilitative and respectful to those in jail and the communities that interact with them? What types of social services and programming could help incarcerated individuals successfully re-enter the community? What type of neighborhood services and amenities that can benefit the community? Please register for a spot in one of the three community workshops to share your ideas with the project team.

Bronx Workshop PAST
Monday, February 6, 2017, 6pm – 9pm

Brooklyn Workshop PAST
Saturday, February 11, 2017, 10am – 1pm

Queens Workshop NEW DATE!
Thursday, March 2, 2017, 6pm–9pm

Space is limited! Only those who register and receive confirmation are guaranteed entrance. If you are interested in joining, please register below and fill out an attendance form by February 28, 2017.


Recent Work by NADAAA
Top Row: NADAAA's design of maker spaces has produced insight into practical training opportunities. Bottom Row: NADAAA worked with city and institutional stakeholders to reconsider the relationship of the Rhode Island School of Design and its urban context.
Outdoor community gathering areas and urban rooms are key in NADAAA's work.
Working with the City of Boston, NADAAA designed a mixed-use development with the aim of positive urban growth and local job creation.

The Justice in Design team, a multi-disciplinary group led by NADAAA in collaboration with the Osborne Association, Susan Opotow, and Karen Kubey, is focused on addressing the complex issues inherent in the design of jails and their relationship to a broader urban context. We believe decentralized justice centers can be neighborhood assets that support residents, businesses, visitors, and the people working and living inside.

Dan Gallagher and Nader Terani, NADAAA

NADAAA is a design practice dedicated to bridging design disciplines from landscape to urbanism, architecture to interiors, and industrial design to furniture. With an eye toward integrated thinking, we enter the discourse of technology, aesthetics, and building as part of a holistic process. Led by Daniel Gallagher and Nader Tehrani, Dean of the Irwin Chanin School of Architecture at the Cooper Union, NADAAA’s design methodology is built on research, analysis, and iteration, with a particular focus on progressive and innovative solutions to complex problems.

Susan Gottesfeld, The Osborne Association

The Osborne Association is one of the country’s largest and most effective non-profit organizations serving individuals and families affected by crime and incarceration. Osborne not only serves people involved in the criminal justice system, the majority of Osborne staff have personal experience with courtrooms, jails, and prisons. The Osborne team will be led by Susan Gottesfeld who oversees Osborne’s Rikers-based services.

Susan Opotow , John Jay College of Criminal Justice and The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Susan Opotow, a professor in the Sociology Department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and in the PhD program in Critical Social/Personality Psychology at The Graduate Center, City University of New York, is a social and environmental psychologist. Her research focuses on the psychology of conflict and justice, specifically exclusionary and inclusionary change and its effect on the well-being of marginalized groups.

Karen Kubey, urbanist specializing in housing and health

Karen Kubey is an urbanist specializing in housing and health. Her recent project partners include the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the New York City Housing Authority. Trained as an architect at the University of California, Berkeley, and Columbia University, Karen co-founded both the Architecture for Humanity New York chapter (now Open Architecture/New York) and New Housing New York, and was the first executive director of the Institute for Public Architecture.

Jayne Mooney, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York

Jayne Mooney, also a professor in the Sociology Department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, is a criminal justice scholar with extensive experience in crime policy and research.

Proposals were reviewed by a jury with expertise across the worlds of design, architecture, incarceration, and environmental psychology, including a representative Van Alen Institute.

Courtney Bryan
Director of Criminal Justice OperationsCenter for Court Innovation

David ChapinArchitect and Professor, Ph.D. Program of Environmental PsychologyCUNY Graduate Center

Mylan DenersteinPartnerGibson, Dunn & Crutcher

Alta Indelman, Principal, Alta Indelman Architect

Michael JacobsonExecutive DirectorCUNY Institute for State & Local Governance

Jessica LaxDirector of CompetitionsVan Alen Institute

Stanley RichardsSenior Vice PresidentThe Fortune Society