Near Westside Peacemaking Project - Designing Justice + Designing Spaces
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The Power of Design


Client: Center for Court Innovation

Location: Syracuse, New York

Team: Ashley McGraw, UPSTATE, Near Westside Initiative

Project Type: Adaptive Reuse – 2,500 square feet

Status: Complete



The Near Westside Peacemaking Project represents a real and sustainable solution to violence and conflict in the community. To implement this project, the Center for Court Innovation pursued a holistic approach that prioritized robust community engagement and good design. As the Center’s primary design partner in this project, we led the community-driven design process in collaboration with UPSTATE and Ashley McGraw Architects. The process included community design workshops and other opportunities to gain valuable community input into the design and functionality of the Peacemaking Center. The final goal of the project was the adaptive reuse of a vacant building at the heart of the neighborhood. Redesign and build-out of the space was completed in 2016, and the Peacemaking Center has since been serving the community and supporting positive outcomes for those participating in the peacemaking process.


The Near Westside Peacemaking Project is the first program in the country, outside of Native communities, to implement both a Native American peacemaking program and a purpose-built space for its use. This project represents a paradigm shift in how we address crime and disorder in our communities, and it demonstrates the role that architects and designers can play in creating holistic and sustainable prototypes for social change.