African Burial Ground Memorial

 New York,NY,2007

Designer: Rodney Leon

 Architect: AARRIS Architects

Principals: Rodney Leon, Nicole Hollant-Denis
Project Architect: Monica Aliaga-Robles
Structural Engineer: Robert Silman Associates
Civil: Langan Engineering
Landscaping: Elizabeth Kenedy Landscape Architects
Lighting Design: Domingo Gonzales Associates
Fountain: Dr. Gerald Palevsky

It was in May 1991 while the US General Services Administration was preparing to build a federal office tower in Lower Manhattan at Broadway between Duane and Reade Streets that the first human remains from the 18th century African Burial Ground were accidentally uncovered. Construction was subsequently halted and the resulting archaeological excavation unearthed more than 400 skeletal remains of men, women and children along with hundreds of burial artifacts. We commemorate this African Burial Ground with an “Ancestral Libation Chamber.”

Through Seven Elements, the Ancestral Chamber serves to physically, spiritually, ritualistically and psychologically define the location where the historic re-interment of remains and artifacts of 419 Africans has taken place. It will also serve to acknowledge the site as a “Sacred Place” where an estimated 20,000 remains of Africans are currently buried. The African Burial Ground is widely considered to be one of America’s most significant archaeological finds of the 20th century. In 1993 the African Burial Ground was designated a National Historic Landmark and in 2006 the African Burial Ground Site was designated a National Monument