Concept Design Workshops and Meetings
For each phase of the project, the design team has conducted a variety of meetings each with the goal of garnering feedback from diverse participants. For the architectural Concept Design, underway now, the design team has facilitated a Kick-Off Workshop of invited scholars, researchers, artists, historians, students, and cultural non-profit professionals, and hosted one Progress Meeting. As the Concept Design Phase continues, additional synopses of workshops and meetings will be added. A brief description of each of the meetings follows:
- Site Information Meeting
- Concept Design Workshop
- Progress Meeting #1 (in conjunction with Visitor Experience Plan Progress Meeting #3)
Site Information Meeting
This initial meeting to inform the site conditions for the concept design was held in November 2017. The purpose of the meeting was to garner specific information about the site and adjacent area that would physically affect the concept design of the project. Attendees to this meeting were city and contract staff that had information on public utilities, storm water, engineering, geotechnical engineering, and the previous archaeological excavations.
The meeting began with the site analysis that had been prepared by the project team. The meeting reviewed these main categories:
- Previous Archaeological Investigations and Excavations
- Storm water and Flood plain
- Culvert/Shockoe Creek
- Main Street Station
- High Speed Rail
- The Seaboard Building
- Broad Street
- Access to the Site (vehicular and pedestrian)
- Other City owned parcels within a 10-block radius
In addition, the project team led initial site analysis discussions including interpretive and physical connections that will be paramount for the project including the Burial Ground and other auction and historical sites that connected this site to the greater interpretive story.
The goal of the meeting was for the project team to get as much information as possible to prepare diagrams and plans of site analysis that would inform the upcoming concept design workshop and provide participants of that workshop with site constraints and opportunities to consider.
Concept Design Workshop
The Concept Design workshop was held in December 2017. The purpose of this workshop was to initiate brainstorming about the physical structure that would be built at the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail / Devil’s Half Acre site.
The workshop had several main goals:
- To provide a bridge between the Visitor Experience Plan work done to date, linking the emotional/experience-based process with the beginning of Concept Design, which will begin to define the physical parameters for the project.
- To define the project: much of the discussion to date was on “what this will be” and one of the key goals was to focus on this definition so that programming and planning could be the natural next step.
- To craft a wish-list of visitor activities – a program – for the entity to be built at the site.
- To analyze the site: the site is full of both opportunities and challenges and a major goal was to map these in relation to the project definition also defined during this meeting and in relation to the requirements and boundaries that have been defined by the City.
- To dream: As with any design exercise, it is important to dream and think big – to imagine and then envision a future state of the project unencumbered by real world challenges like cost and physical restraints. This allows designers to think of options that might not be considered and while unrealistic, could inform real world decisions and designs in creative ways.
The project team led a variety of exercises during the workshop that were word-based, image-based, and discussion-based. The team hosted a diverse group of over 50 participants including local historians, researchers, Virginia Union University representatives, local teachers, City of Richmond staff, Richmond Slave Trail commissioners, artists, local residents, high school students and consultant team members. Participants created Emotions/Space collages, word collages that defined the type of entity they wanted to see paired with their reasons and visions, marked up, sketched, and diagrammed site/district/city maps and plans, and sketched, wrote poems, and listed blue sky ideas for what they envisioned at the site.
Progress Meeting #1 (in Conjunction with Visitor Experience Plan Progress Meeting #3)
The third progress meeting was held in conjunction with the exhibit design team and specifically addressed the archaeology, both physically and interpretively. This workshop built upon the Visitor Experience Plan workshop, previous progress meetings, previous Community Consultation meetings, and the Concept Design Workshop.
The progress meeting was held in February 2018 at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. The project team coordinated with Dr. Lonnie Bunch to present to the participants a series of “Lessons Learned” from his experience developing and building the museum on the National mall. Progress meeting participants included artists, researchers, academics, city officials, community organizers, and high school students.
The project team shared the key opportunities and challenges of the project site as well as a summary of the site analysis and observations. One of the biggest questions for the project team involved the archaeology itself and how a building will mass around it and how visitors will engage with it. These questions were the focus of the exercises which tasked participants to relay where in the emotional and interpretive sequence, the archaeology should fit. The second exercise had participants evaluate and vote on concept design goals that would guide the project. Finally, a wish-list program for the entity was presented to the group for questions and discussion.