The Harlem African Burial Ground Task Force is a group of concerned citizens who have united to help the Elmendorf Reformed Church to restore and memorialize its historically and culturally significant colonial African burial ground at 1st Avenue, between 126th and 127th Streets in East Harlem, New York City.

ARCHIVING THROUGH THE LAND:

A Living Scaffold

CCNY STUDENTS

This proposal highlights the inevitable need for continuous change in the physical, social, symbolic and ecological life of the site by providing space for varied public interactions, including a memorial to those who were buried there.  The sacred memorial space is marked by trees that will grow and change with the seasons, reflecting and honoring in natural form the former activity of those buried there. The site features housing blocks with separate entrances, urban farming and a curvilinear cultural center.

Katsiaryna Balhuryna

 

Rei Celo

Aerial perspective of the proposed design on the HABG site looking south. 

STUDENT PROJECTS

For over a decade, the Harlem African Burial Ground Task Force has been studying this sacred, historic site in detail, oftentimes in collaboration with elected officials, city and state agencies, community activists and professionals from a wide variety of fields – history, archaeology, religious ministries, architecture, and urban planning.  The goal is simple: to deeply understand the spiritual, historical, cultural, social and economic significance of this site and integrate this knowledge into a thoughtful redevelopment agenda.  

 

The Task Force has also collaborated with architecture and urban planning professors and their students in academic programs from Hunter College (2011) and City College (2019) to demonstrate the variety of physical options available for redeveloping this sacred and historic site. Though not endorsing any of these particular ideas, the Task Force shares them here, and looks forward to continued collaboration with all stakeholders as this important site moves through a city-led redevelopment process.