An international design competition to reimagine Richmond's famous Monument Avenue announced its winners during a closing reception at the Valentine on Nov. 20.
Overseen by the Storefront for Community Design, mOb Studio and VCUarts, the competition launched last year and received nearly 70 proposals from around the world, according to a press release. It all stemmed from the Valentine exhibition "Monument Avenue: Generation Demotion/General Devotion" which has helped spark some local debate and conversation.
“Working together to oversee this competition has really been an eye-opening experience and a truly educational exercise for everyone involved,” said Camden Whitehead, Associate Professor for Interior Design at VCU and Principal, Sadler & Whitehead Architects in the release. “Looking at the winners, all of the proposals and the public response, it’s clear that design has a central role to play in moving forward, and this competition is where that difficult work starts.”
The four winners were awarded $2,000 each after being selected by a jury panel "that included national and local practitioners and educators in the relevant fields of planning, architecture, landscape architecture, curatorship and social justice."
Here are the winners with provided quotes, per the release:
For consideration of scale and the People's Choice Award:
The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Memorial by Shane Neufeld and Kevin Kunstadt. Neufeld said: “Our proposal attempts to redefine how we perceive history through design, and specifically, to do so in counterpoint to the means and methods employed by the existing statues on Monument Avenue. We feel fortunate to be a part of this dialogue and hope that our design provides a strategy – rather than a solution – for a continued discourse and future progress."
For thoughtful handling of programming:
The Richmond Engagement Corridor, Pratt Institute Group #2 (Courtney Knapp, Claudia Castillo de la Cruz, Maria "Angel" Munoz Martinez, Dhanya Rajagopal, Danielle Monopoli, Jane Kandampulli, Dina Posner, Di Cui, Camille Sasena, Aishwarya Pravin Kulkarn). "Nine women, representing five countries and three master's programs at Pratt Institute's Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment, developed this proposal,” said Dr. Knapp, Pratt Institute Professor whose students developed the design. “The team visited Richmond in October of 2018, and left inspired by the complex, dynamic city they had encountered. This inspiration grounded the ideas in the proposal while also expanding their understanding of anti-racism praxis and reparations."
For response to difficult and complex context:
Center For Productive Conversations, PLAYLAB, INC. (Archie Lee Coates IV, Jeff Franklin, Anya Shcherbakova, Phil Gibson, Dillon Kogle): "Ideas are powerful. Positivity (just like negativity) has a way of seeping into the cracks and taking hold. As a studio, we believe in a positive future for Monument Avenue: one with diverse groups of people energetically exploring new ideas in the public and productive setting of a museum,” said Archie Lee Coates IV, a member of the design team. “With the Center for Productive Conversations, we can create new perspectives that are inclusive of everyone, respectfully looking back as we boldly look forward. It will be no small task to realize these ideas, but thankfully the process has already begun with the opportunity to propose them."
For thoughtful proposals for both temporary and permanent interventions:
Bound (pictured) by Lori Garrett, Robert Riddle, Neil Walls. "I am grateful to the sponsors of this competition and to the Valentine for this exhibit because it provides a catalyst for conversation that is critical not only for true change in our city, but for communities across the country,” said Lori Garrett. “I entered because I believe we unequivocally need to provide the monuments with the historical context that enables us to understand how the heritage of some has perpetuated the physical and social bondage of others. Hopefully our design entry not only will contribute to the on-going dialog, but instigate actions that further Richmond’s journey of racial reconciliation."
You can visit monumentavenuegdgd.com for higher-resolution versions of the winning designs. The winners, along with the 20 finalists and all other submissions, will be on display as part of "Monument Avenue: General Demotion/General Devotion" at the Valentine, which runs through Dec. 31.