Deanna Van Buren

Architect, Artist, Activist | Designing Justice + Designing Spaces

Architect Deanna Van Buren is co-founder of Designing Justice + Designing Spaces, an Oakland-based nonprofit architecture and real estate development firm working with nonprofit, government, and community partners to develop the infrastructure to end mass incarceration through the support of diversion and reentry. She was recently awarded the Rauschenberg Artist as Activist grant. Read more about Deanna below.

Peace by Design

Thursday October 24 | 1:30 pm

Peace by Design looks at the work of Designing Justices Designing Spaces (DJDS), along with research  that explores how design in the public realm can support healing from interpersonal and transgenerational harms. 

DJDS believes that the built environment embodies many of our society’s gross inequities. The organization works with nonprofit, government, and community partners to create new prototypes such as peacemaking centers, mobile classrooms, and housing for foster-age youth.

More about the speaker

An international leader in developing a radical transformation of the entire criminal justice pipeline, Deanna Van Buren is the design director and co-founder of Designing Justice + Designing Spaces (DJ+DS), an Oakland-based architecture and real estate development nonprofit working with governments and organizations to develop the infrastructure to end mass incarceration through projects including peacemaking and restorative justice centers, mobile classrooms, and re-entry housing for people coming out of incarceration.

Her firm, DJDS, is an Oakland-based nonprofit architecture and real estate development firm working with nonprofit, government, and community partners to develop the infrastructure to end mass incarceration through the support of diversion and reentry.

Van Buren’s projects include the Syracuse Peacemaking Center in New York; Restore Oakland, a multi-use hub for restorative justice and workforce development in East Oakland in collaboration with the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United); and Pop-Up Resource Village, a mobile site activation tool that brings a constellation of resources to under-resourced communities. Van Buren is also the co-founder of BIG Oakland (Building Industry Gathering), a co-working space supporting small minority- and women-owned firms in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry.

A pioneering activist dedicated to exposing the social inequities that manifest in traditional justice architecture such as courthouses and prisons, Van Buren has been recognized internationally for her leadership in using architecture, design, and real estate innovation to promote social justice.

Van Buren’s work has been featured on TEDWomen and honored by the American Institute of Architects San Francisco, as well as Architecture Record’s Women in Architecture Awards honoring pioneering professionals. She is the only architect to have been awarded the Rauschenberg Artist as Activist fellowship. Her teaching experience includes the Inside Out Program at Chester Prison with incarcerated men and students from Haverford College, and Eastern Mennonite University with global peacemakers. She currently sits on the national board of Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility.

She received her BS in architecture from the University of Virginia and her MA from Columbia University and is an alumnus of the Loeb Fellowship at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.

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