This proposal takes into account the possibility of a sea-level rise flooding portions of the Harlem African Burial Ground site and the surrounding neighborhood. A design component of the proposed project also incorporates an African tradition of using a ceramic and laterite compound to cover the façade of each building. This reference to the historic landscape of those brought here against their will, along with the possibility that the current site will have its landscape changed against our present will, is a meaningful reminder of how forces outside our control often shape our lives.
Rendered elevation looking north from 126th Street, incorporating rise in sea level.
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.