City College Final Review 2019

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.

CCNY Advanced Thesis Studio conducting a site visit to the 126th Street Bus Depot.


In the spring semester of the 2018-2019 academic year, Professor Jerome Haferd taught an Advanced Studio Architecture class, “Shifting Ground: The Harlem African Burial Ground,” (ARCH 86101/ARCH 51000/ARCH 91102) in The Bernard & Anne Spitzer School of Architecture of the City College of New York. In addition to teaching, Haferd is a co-founder of the Harlem-based BRANDT: HAFERD design practice. In this intensive 16-week seminar, 13 students working in 5 small teams created 5 design concepts for the development of the Harlem African Burial Ground site. According to Prof. Haferd’s 2018 course description:

The City of New York is preparing to solicit proposals to develop the Harlem African Burial Ground into a mixed-use complex of housing, with a cultural center and “living memorial” at its heart. This plan – to superimpose an “everyday” urbanism (housing) on top of a highly symbolic site – will be the critical starting point. Thus, the studio will challenge students to design proposals which address the following question:

How does the dialogue between “Living” and “Memorial” allow for a rethinking of both? 

Outside lecturers and consultants as well as members of the Harlem African Burial Ground Task Force visited the Studio throughout the course of the semester to provide information and insights as the students were developing their ideas. The students’ final presentation to the Studio jury and invited guests, including members of the Harlem African Burial Ground Task Force, took place on May 9, 2019. Below are links to a collection of the students’ work arranged by group name: