For Cook County’s Bond Court, a design with dignity

The poor physical design of Cook County’s Central Bond Court had long been a concern of its elected and appointed leaders, who claimed it negatively impacted bond and detainment decisions in Chicago. We partnered with Civic Consulting Alliance to completely redesign the courtroom and initiate positive change, striving for a civic space alive with dignity and decorum.

What they do

Cook County’s Bond Court processes dozens of bond hearings a day, during which a judge determines if someone under arrest can be released from jail between the date of the hearing and the time the criminal case is decided.


Fast Company World Changing Ideas Award



Stakeholder groups engaged



Court cases seen per hour

How we're helping

The redesign addresses numerous challenges identified by the stakeholders related to layout, organization, acoustics, lighting, access to information, and more that previously might have prevented judges from receiving necessary information, and that might have discouraged fair hearings.

The newly designed courtroom promotes dignity, equity and social justice in a city with acute challenges related to the jailing of nonviolent detainees — a positive step forward. It reinstates dignity and decorum in the courtroom, ensures judges have proper information about each defendant, communication is clear, and defendants and families understand the proceedings. All of this aims to achieve better decision-making related to bond and detainment decisions — and set a breakthrough model to be followed across the United States.

The project was one of 12 overall winners of Fast Company’s inaugural World Changing Ideas awards, and today serves the Cook County judicial system with its innovative design.