Listen to more podcast episodes from ARCHITECT here.

Deanna Van Buren wanted to create environments that would improve the lives of those largely absent from conventional firm portfolios: newly released prisoners. With the nation's slight, but promising, movement toward decarceration, Van Buren saw a need for infrastructure in underinvested communities to which these people are often returning. But she couldn't find a firm that took on the work of designing restorative justice and peacemaking centers, so she founded Designing Justices + Designing Spaces with developer Kyle Rawlins in Oakland, Calif.

Deanna Van Buren
Vanessa Lenz Deanna Van Buren

In this podcast episode, Van Buren shares why she left her steady work at a successful firm to pursue her own ambition, what it takes to realize a restorative justice space in a community of doubters, and her belief that architects and designers can drive meaningful, substantial changes in society. In her op-ed "We Must Plan for a Decarceration Nation," in the May 2019 issue of ARCHITECT, Van Buren writes, "[Architects] have a unique way of thinking that helps us manifest complex ideas, concepts, and philosophies into real space and time—all skills that are desperately needed at the edge of social change. Together, we can steward and even lead a successful effort to decarcerate our nation and build equitable and just communities."

Episode 37: Practicing Architecture to Make a Difference, featuring Deanna Van Buren, is also available on SoundCloud, iTunes, and GooglePlay.

This podcast episode was produced by Wanda Lau, Lauren Honesty, Daniel Tayag, and Rob Grauert.