Charlottesville-based firm, Bushman Dreyfus Architects, awarded a total of $8000 to four of the 80 entrants in a competition to reimagine Vinegar Hill Park. The focus of the competition was the west end of the Downtown Mall - what used to be Vinegar Hill, a predominantly African-American neighborhood that was razed in 1964.
The Grand Prize Award was given to the UVA School of Architecture alumni team comprised of A.J. Artemel, Lauren McQuistion and Tyler Whitney. Their design proposal is entitled Mediator in a Difficult Conversation. All three are 2011 UVA School of Architecture graduates.
“Just as cities are continuing with acknowledging lynching, it would be so powerful for Charlottesville to recognize the era of destruction that urban renewal placed on American cities,” said Maurice Cox, a former mayor of Charlottesville and the current planning director for the city of Detroit.
Cox served on a jury of five (including UVA Landscape Architecture Professor, Beth Meyer; Jefferson School American American Heritage Center Executive Director, Dr. Andrea Douglas; IX Art Park Executive Director Brian Wimer; Associate Professor of History at UCF, Dr. Scot A. French) that chose one grand prize for $5,000 and two finalists for $1,000 each.
At a panel discussion in April 2018 at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, attendees submitted ballots for one community choice award of $1,000. Submissions came from countries ranging from South Korea to Venezuela.
"We were really moved by being so far removed from [the white supremacist rally that] happened here in August and seeing it happen on TV. Having the opportunity to be part of the conversation, even from afar, was really important to us,” said Lauren McQuistion, who now lives in Detroit and works as a designer for ROSSETTI, along with Tyler Whitney. A.J. Artemel is now the Director of Communications at Yale School of Architecture.
The team proposed building an 80-foot wall to match the dimensions of the Freedom of Speech Wall at the east end of the Downtown Mall. The new wall would be composed of layers of metal maps of Vinegar Hill.
The winner of the community choice award was local architecture firm Waterstreet Studio. The entry started as a study of Preston Avenue for Stony Point Design Build, which is redeveloping the former Monticello Dairy building into a mixed-use complex.
As the panel wrapped up their comments, Cox encouraged the public to push to make the competition ideas reality. “This is a moment when that end of the mall is going to go through an extraordinary transformation with a new building,” he said, referring to the redevelopment of the Main Street Arena and adjacent buildings into office space. “I just think that the community owes it to those at Vinegar Hill to take this moment with something very, very tangible and very realizable and just get it done.”
The goal of the competition was to generate conversation and ideas for Vinegar Hill Park. Charlottesville City Council’s process for creating Vinegar Hill Park is independent from the competition.
Congratulations to alumni: A.J., Lauren, and Tyler!