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.

DESIGN GUIDELINES

Aerial view of the 126th Street Bus Depot (highlighted in red) overlaid with the historic footprint of the Harlem African Burial Ground (highlighted in orange). 

Embodying the goals and spirit of the Harlem African Burial Ground Vision and Mission Statement, the entire 126th Street bus depot block redevelopment project should function as a cohesive whole, an urban village, centered on a consecrated Harlem African Burial Ground memorial as its focal point.

HARLEM AFRICAN BURIAL GROUND MEMORIAL

BE ICONIC & TIMELESS

The particular features of the consecrated Harlem African Burial Ground memorial should tell the story of this site and simultaneously present a powerful, original and universal statement about human suffering and sacrifice, energy and optimism, recognition and reconciliation.

 

EVOKE HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE & IMPACT THROUGH EDUCATION, INTERPRETATION & EMPOWERMENT

The connected indoor and outdoor elements of the consecrated memorial should provide a sacred space in which the solemnity and sacredness of the once desecrated hallowed ground can be acknowledged and prayers for enlightenment and peace can be offered.

 

FOSTER A SACRED SENSE OF PLACE

The consecrated memorial should be an elegant, versatile, sacred place where individuals and groups can assemble for education, dialogue, performance, meditation and prayer.

NEW EAST HARLEM VILLAGE

MAINTAIN CONNECTIVITY

The entire site should provide easy connectivity, both physical and visual, to the constantly evolving surrounding neighborhood, including infrastructure and amenities such as Harlem River Drive, Willis Avenue Bridge, 2nd Avenue Subway, and Harlem River Park. The consecrated memorial should be designed in conjunction with these and the rest of the site’s programmatic goals and requirements; spacious transitions should characterize a graceful relationship between the consecrated memorial and the rest of the site and neighborhood.

 

ENCOURAGE A SPIRIT OF WELCOME

Ensuring welcome for residents, New Yorkers, national and international visitors, the entire site should contain diverse spaces and architectural shapes, as well as easy transitional connections among them, in which residence, local commerce, informal recreation, education, ceremony and sacred reflection are all made possible.

 

“GREEN” THE SITE TO THE HIGHEST STANDARDS, WHILE EMBRACING ITS HISTORICAL, CULTURAL AND SPIRITUAL CONNECTIONS TO THE HARLEM RIVER

The whole site should be developed according to the highest national and international environmental justice principles and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. Architectural and landscape design elements, including water features, should reflect the site’s centuries’ old close, practical and spiritual connections to the Harlem River. The site’s design should inform and inspire all future infrastructure and parks projects nearby.

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