Institute for Environmental Negotiation

Empowering communities to create shared solutions

Memorial to Enslaved Laborers

At the September 2016 meeting of the Board of Visitors, the design team of Höweler + Yoon, Mabel Wilson, Gregg Bleam and Associates, and IEN's Frank Dukes was approved to design the Memorial for Enslaved Workers at the University of Virginia. In June 2017, following extensive meetings with community groups, the design team’s conceptual design was approved by the Board of Visitors. The design of a new memorial marks a critical moment to address the complex history of the University and of the country, and affirms UVA’s role as a leader in the national conversation about race, history and institutions.

As a World Heritage Site and a cherished American landmark, UVA’s grounds require an approach to design that is sensitive to history with all its strengths and failings. The design team of local and national experts brings unique skills and experiences that address both local conditions and national perspectives.

Dr. Mabel O. Wilson, a UVA graduate, architectural historian/critic at Columbia University, and a research fellow at the Institute for the Research in African American Studies, is an expert on race and the history of the built environment. Gregg Bleam, the landscape architect collaborator, established his practice in Charlottesville in 1990 and has taught at and worked in and around the University for 30 years. Meejin Yoon and Eric Höweler bring national expertise in designing cultural, civic, and academic public spaces. Frank Dukes’ work with the Institute for Environmental Negotiation and University & Community Action for Racial Equity (UCARE)has garnered national recognition for pioneering community engagement.

The Memorial to the Enslaved Workers is a significant opportunity to express UVA’s current ideals for the future while addressing a complex past. The design process involved intensive meetings with community groups and UVA stakeholders, listening and translating their ideals and ideas into a design that resonates with them. To learn more about the design, visit