A new spatial memorial in the USA honours the ‘lives, labour and perseverance' of the enslaved African Americans who built and maintained the University of Virginia (UVA) in Charlottesville. The Memorial to Enslaved Laborers has been unveiled to a design by Boston based architects Höweler + Yoon in collaboration with historian and designer Dr. Mabel O. Wilson (Studio&), Gregg Bleam Landscape Architect, community facilitator Dr. Frank Dukes, and artist Eto Otitigbe.
The piece, which sits on the green grounds of the campus, is dedicated to the some 4,000 enslaved persons, who worked on the Grounds of UVA between 1817 and 1865, either owned or rented by the University for this task. Acknowledging both the dehumanizing violence involved in this, as well as the enslaved people's hope, sense of community, resistance and resilience, the memorial ‘creates a vital public place to understand, learn, and remember their contribution to the University,' explains the institution.
The design includes a low, round structure, 80ft in diameter, which rises from the ground, almost mirroring the circular form of the University’s iconic Rotunda dome nearby. Made of local Virginia Mist granite, it features concentric rings that wrap around a planted circular meeting ground. A water table presents a timeline honoring the enslaved and a concave wall of memory marks the names of individuals in the community. There is also a textured convex sloping stone inscribed with a portrait of Isabella Gibbons, an enslaved domestic worker at UVA, who later became a teacher in Charlottesville – this piece is by Otitigbe.
‘The Memorial is not just about memory,' says Meejin Yoon, co-founder of Höweler + Yoon. ‘It is about the present, and the work that we all need to be engaged in today. The Memorial is about actively bringing people together. It is about opening up dialogue, between visitors and individuals, but also between the University and the community. It is rebuilding a relationship and rebuilding trust. These are the necessary steps in the contemporary conversations about race and repair.'
Receive our daily digest of inspiration, escapism and design stories from around the world direct to your inbox
Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).
This book charts Karl Lagerfeld’s life through his extraordinary homes
Karl Lagerfeld‘s stylish life was complemented by an equally chic array of homes, revealed in a new book that also gives a glimpse of the fashion designer’s eclectic eye for interiors
By Jack Moss Published
Haeckels Christmas 2023
Margate-based beauty brand Haeckels has released its Christmas initiative, which demonstrates an ongoing commitment to environmental causes
By Hannah Tindle Published
Wallpaper* gift guide: shopping with travel editor Sofia de la Cruz
From a classic cocktail at an iconic bar to stylish carry-ons and a great graphic journal: a gift guide marking the sweet spot between functionality and luxury
By Sofia de la Cruz Published
‘Frank Lloyd Wright’s Southwestern Pennsylvania’: two exhibitions bring new life to historic designs
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Southwestern Pennsylvania and Fallingwater designs, realised and unrealised, are celebrated in two exhibitions, at The Westmoreland and at Fallingwater itself
By Audrey Henderson Published
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival design by Studio Gang revealed
The first images for the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival by Studio Gang have been unveiled
By Ellie Stathaki Published
Learnings from the Architecture Sarasota MOD Weekend 2023
Architecture Sarasota MOD Weekend 2023 highlights local midcentury architects’ timeless responses to sustainability and a site-specific approach
By Angella d'Avignon Published
Roy Lichtenstein studio is now home to the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program
The 1912 Roy Lichtenstein studio has been updated by Johnston Marklee to include individual artist studios, a seminar room and other facilities
By Pei-Ru Keh Published
This artist’s studio on Long Island is carefully placed amidst a wooded site
Architects Worrell Yeung designed the Springs artist's studio to blend into the trees, with leafy views from the lofty atelier
By Jonathan Bell Published
Lever House in New York gets a 21st-century makeover
Some 70 years after its completion, SOM returns to Lever House in New York, bringing the high-rise landmark to the 21st century
By Diana Budds Published
FRPO’s Oregon house explores modern materials and a circular plan
This single-storey Oregon house in the Pacific Northwest offers a radical new take on suburban living
By Jonathan Bell Published
Camino House is a revived 1960s home in San Francisco’s Silicon Valley
Lindsay Gerber’s tactful refurbishment of Camino House brings a quiet glamour to the wood-panelled 1960s home in San Francisco’s Silicon Valley
By Shonquis Moreno Published