DJ+DS | About
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Our Mission

At DJ+DS we use our innovations in architecture, design, and real estate development to attack the root causes of mass incarceration which we believe to be poverty, racism, lack of access to resources and the criminal justice system itself. Therefore, with our non-profit, government and community partners, we counter the societal inequities evident in the dominant architectural models of courthouses and prisons by co-creating new prototypes such as peacemaking centers, mobile villages and housing for foster age youth. Together, we harness the power of the built environment to create triple-bottom-line equity, and support the success and expansion of restorative justice, education, and workforce development programs.

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Bold Idea

Our bold idea is that by transforming the spaces and places where we do justice we can help our society make the shift from a punitive justice system to a restorative justice system. We hope to see peacemaking centers in every community in this country and end the age of mass incarceration.

Our Philosophy

Restorative justice seeks to restore and repair the people and relationships impacted by crime by understanding victims’ needs and holding offenders accountable in a way that meets these needs. It brings victims and offenders together for face-to-face meetings to discuss impacts, needs, and, when appropriate, ways to repair damages. Thousands of these processes operate in the US, Canada, and Europe, with many dialogues occurring in prisons when the offender is incarcerated and the crimes have been violent. Research suggests that these encounters contribute to increased empathy, improved restitution completion, and reduced offending.


Rather than focused on punishment, this philosophical approach to justice relies on values such as respect, participation, trust, accountability, and healing. Just as the principles and values of our punitive approach to justice manifest in our current justice architectural typologies, the philosophies of a restorative model can inform the design of justice spaces in a radically different way.


At DJ+DS our work is informed by these values and beliefs. Using the philosophy of restorative justice we design physical environments in such a way that the environmental design supports the programs which occur within the space.


This concern for the design of the spaces in which restorative justice occurs is new, and important, but not all that a truly restorative community requires. It also requires that we support the development of new types of housing and resource centers to address the root causes of mass incarceration and the decades of disinvestment, trauma, and harm done to our communities of color.

Our Team

Deanna Van Buren

Deanna Van Buren

Co-Founder and Design Director


Deanna Van Buren is the co-founder and design director of DJDS. Prior to starting DJDS, Deanna spent 15 years as a design lead on domestic, institutional and higher education projects in the Bay Area, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Her design leadership in restorative justice design has attracted funding such as a Byrne Justice Innovation Grant with the Center for Court Innovation to develop a peacemaking center in Syracuse, NY. In addition to built projects, Deanna manifests her thought leadership on restorative justice architecture through published materials such as the “Restorative Justice City Map” and “Guidelines for Creating Restorative Spaces in Schools”. Deanna received her BS in Architecture from the University of Virginia, an MARCH from Columbia University and was recently a Loeb Fellow at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Her diversity of education & experience expresses her commitment to leadership in the profession and is focused on exploring the layered and complex services that architects have the capacity to provide in the agency of social change.

Kyle Rawlins

Kyle Rawlins

Co-Founder and Development Director


Kyle Rawlins is a co-founder of DJDS and responsible for its development activities. Kyle has been active in the analysis, financing, design, construction and management of real estate in North and South America for nearly 15 years. In addition to pursuing development projects in New York City, Kyle has consulted to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) in the development of a solution for how might NYCHA, as landlords with a mission to help residents grow their income and assets, spearhead the creation of an economic development model to empower unemployed, unbanked, credit challenged “NYCHApreneurs” so that they may access capital to build sustainable, livable wage producing businesses.

Barb Toews

Barb Toews

Evaluation Partner & Board Member


Barb Toews is an experienced practitioner and educator in restorative justice, with a special interest in its application in correctional facilities. She is currently Assistant Professor in criminal justice at University of Washington Tacoma. Her current research focuses on the relationship between restorative justice, architecture and design, and psycho-social-behavioral-judicial outcomes, research that includes the use of art/design-based methodologies. She and Deanna Van Buren are co-creators of Designing Justice+Designing Spaces Toolkit for working with incarcerated individuals, architects/designs, and criminal and human service professional to engage with restorative justice and re-envision the design of justice spaces.