Open Fields

A submission to an international design competition to create a memorial honoring more than 1,800 former slaves buried at Contrabands and Freedmen’s Cemetery in Alexandria, Virginia. The site was established in 1864 as a burial ground for African Americans who fled slavery, seeking a safe haven in Union-controlled Alexandria during the Civil War. Over the years, the site has been compromised and hundreds of graves lost from a number of actions and circumstances.
This site, like many in Old Town Alexandria, is seen as a place where history has recorded itself in layers of addition and subtraction. Recast as a memorial to people called Contrabands and Freedmen, the site’s design should not overtly prescribe a specific way of thinking about its complex and difficult histories. The memorial should reveal as many of these layers as possible.

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