Discover the Prize Winner: International Design Competition for a Permanent Memorial to Honour the Victims of Slavery

The revised concept of the Memorial, a 15’ high Chamber of granite and glass. © Rodney Leon

 The Winner is Rodney LEON.

Pictures and Video of the Ceremony

Rodney LEON is a designer on a diversity of building types including housing, churches and transportation projects in the U.S. and abroad. He is the designer of the African Burial Ground Memorial in New York City which is the only National Monument in the United States dedicated to the contributions of people of African descent. He has focused his professional efforts and developed an expertise in modern “Culturally Contextual” design, Master Planning and Mixed Use Housing Development for faith based and international development organizations. Current projects include the Museum of Contemporary African and Diaspora Arts (MOCADA). In addition, he has developed and is partnering with manufacturers to design and implement sustainable “Green” housing development models for emerging markets in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. The first such project is the 24 acre, mixed use “Belle Rive” Residential Development in Jacmel, Haiti. In addition, the applicant is involved in a professional collaboration with 3 other architects on efforts to provide transitional housing for displaced families in Haiti through an initiative entitled the “Haiti SOFTHOUSE.” He received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from Pratt Institute School of Architecture in 1992 and his Masters of Architecture from Yale University in 1995. He has also been a Visiting Design professor at Pratt Institute School of Architecture from 1998 to 2003. He has served as 2nd Year Design Coordinator for Pratt in 2003 and is currently serving as an Adjunct Professor of Advanced Design since 2009.

The Ark of Return is proposed to acknowledge the tragedy of the estimated 20-25 million people of African descent that lost their lives over a period of 400 years during the transatlantic “triangular” Slave trade. Its monumental form of an abstracted “vessel” references the slave ships and acknowledges the tragedy of the Middle Passage. Powerful images illustrating the cross section of a slave ship, a transatlantic map, cultural symbols and quotes shall be engraved on the interior and exterior of the monument and shall serve to graphically illustrate the magnitude, duration and scale of this tragedy.

The Ark of Return shall give form and voice to the untold stories, memories, sacrifices and contributions of millions of African souls that contributed to humanity. It shall serve to educate future generations about the impact of slavery in its historic and contemporary manifestations lest we forget.

The Ark of Return is a symbolic, spiritual space and object where one may interact and pass through for acknowledgement, contemplation, meditation, reflection, healing, education and transformation.

For more information on the winner and project, please download the following document.


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