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Winners Announced for Competition to Rethink Monument Avenue

Monument Avenue has increasingly become a source of controversy and contention. The Valentine has made an effort to make it a source of conversation and engagement.

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Last night, the winners of an international design competition to conceptually reimagine Richmond’s Monument Avenue were announced during a special closing reception at the Valentine.

The competition, overseen by the Storefront for Community Design, mOb Studio and VCUarts, was launched last year and received nearly 70 design proposals from across the globe. The 20 finalists were determined by a panel of jurors and have been on display at the Valentine since February of 2019. This exhibition Monument Avenue: General Demotion/General Devotion, sparked intense debate, engagement and conversation across the Richmond community.

The jury acknowledged project strengths in several areas, and through their deliberations, chose to bestow awards in four different design areas. The winners announced last night include:

For consideration of scale:

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Memorial
Shane Neufeld and Kevin Kunstadt

Out of more than 2,000 votes cast by visitors to the Valentine’s exhibition, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Memorial was also the winner of the People’s Choice Award.

“We would like to thank the jurors and the Richmond community for holding this challenging and ambitious competition, and engaging artists, architects and designers from around the country,” Shane 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 Richmond Engagement Corridor 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
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.”


These four honorees were 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.

“We’re excited to honor these individuals and groups for their innovative and bold approach to conceptually rethinking the future of Monument Avenue,” said Valentine Director Bill Martin. “It has been an adventure hosting this exhibition, and I hope that the dialogue created by these proposals has helped Richmonders better understand the role of monuments in our daily lives and how we can move forward as a community.”

“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. “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.”

Each winning design will receive a prize of $2,000.

Visit monumentavenuegdgd.com for higher-resolution versions of the winning designs.

 

The winners, along with the 20 finalists and all other submissions, are on display in Monument Avenue: General Demotion/General Devotion at the Valentine through December 31, 2019.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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Photos: J.E.B. Stuart’s Last Ride

Monday morning the city removed the J.E.B. Stuart statue.

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New Virtual Series “Science Shorts” at Science Museum of Virginia

Encouraged by the popularity of the astronomy shows broadcast on Facebook and Zoom-based Lunch Break Science presentations, educators are producing another virtual weekly series dubbed Science Shorts as another way to keep supporters connected to the Museum.

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Due to the hands-on interactive nature of the Science Museum of Virginia, they made the tough decision not to open their doors as the commonwealth enters Phase 3. That doesn’t mean the learning is going to stop. On June 30th they launched Science Shorts so that everyone can virtually experience STEM demonstrations in the labs and exhibits.

Image Courtesy of Science Museum of Virginia

What:
While guests cannot currently visit the Science Museum of Virginia to experience STEM demonstrations in the labs and exhibits, the Museum wants to make sure the public does not forget that there is science all around them, and that they can explore engaging science principals from home in fun and creative ways.

Encouraged by the popularity of the astronomy shows broadcast on Facebook and Zoom-based Lunch Break Science presentations, educators are producing another virtual weekly series dubbed Science Shorts as another way to keep supporters connected to the Museum.

Starting June 30, education team members will offer a less than five minute video explaining a science topic through a demonstration or activity. The Museum will then post follow-up resources that build on the topic in the video on its website for social followers to continue exploring from home.

When:
The Science Short shows will air weekly on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. beginning June 30.

Who:
Curious-minded guests of all ages are invited to watch the videos and try out the activities at home. There is no registration or fee required.

Where:
The programs will be posted on the Museum’s social media channels: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. The corresponding activity guide will accessible on the Museum’s website.

Why:
Social followers have responded positively to the STEM at Home activities the Museum has posted since the public closure in mid-March, but also have expressed missing the educator-led interactions for which the Museum is known. Staff believe the Science Shorts will offer the demo experience guests enjoyed while at the Museum, the directions for conducting science at home and the reminder that quarantining and summer break does not mean forgetting about science.

The Museum is also using these digital videos to highlight the importance of science in our everyday lives and offer a dose of inspiration no matter where the audience is located.

How:
The new virtual series is made possible thanks to the generous support of WestRock.

Image Courtesy of Science Museum of Virginia

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Stonewall Jackson Rides Off Into a Rainy Sunset

The first of three Confederate statues slated for removal was taken down Wednesday afternoon.

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Early Wednesday morning, Mayor Stoney asked City Council to vote to immediately remove the Confederate statues on Monument Avenue. City Council declined, citing procedural rules. A vote was scheduled for Thursday. Stoney was in no mood to wait. Wednesday afternoon a work crew with a crane and flatbed trailer descended on the Stonewall Jackson Monument at Arthur Ashe Boulevard and Monument. Upon arrival, they immediately went to work taking down Stonewall Jackson from his massive pedestal.

The mayor felt justified in his end-run around City Council stating, “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge, and protestors attempt to take down Confederate statues themselves or confront others who are doing so, the risk grows for serious illness, injury, or death. We have an urgent need to protect the public.”

The early crowd.

The removal of the statue was unannounced but word quickly spread on social media. What started as a small crowd swelled to over 1,000.

The crowd from roughly the same spot closer about an hour later.

The process of removing the statue was slow and tedious. The mood of the crowd was celebratory.

At one point an individual quickly went the statue and waved a “Respect our Monuments” flag. Tensions quickly escalated as the crowd rushed towards him. Richmond Sherriffs quickly escorted the counter protestor from the area but not before his flag met an ignominious end.

Throughout the workers steadily prepared the statue for removal.

As the moment of truth approached so did the storm clouds. Heavy rain hit as Jackson was lifted into the air. The tension that had been building was released as the remaining folks cheered the Confederate generals removal.

 

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Separation.

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At the time of this writing the work crew was setting up at the Maury memorial.

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