William & Mary University select design to shed light on a troubled past

30 April 2019
  • William Sendor

William Sendor


Williamsburg, VA

United States

Concept chosen for memorial to the enslaved

The nationwide debate about whether or not to remove monuments and statues in the United States connected to the confederacy has also raised questions about the lack of memorials to enslaved labourers, who were instrumental in creating many institutional buildings but remain anonymous. In August 2018, William & Mary University in Williamsburg, VA held a design competition for a Memorial to the Enslaved, which attracted 80 submissions from individuals across 16 states and four continents. Now, the winning design has been revealed as William Sendor’s proposal called “Hearth”, which was selected by University president Katherine A. Rowe following recommendations from a nine-member jury of professionals in the fields of history, museums and the arts.

Sendor, a North Carolina-based architect who graduated from William & Mary in 2011, used the idea of a brick fireplace to represent both a place of work as well as a site for gathering and community. The memorial will highlight the names of those commemorated by the new monument, with room to add more as they are uncovered through research. “When I heard about the memorial design competition, I knew that I had to participate,” Sendor said. While delving into the history of the university, he was struck by a discussion of fire and its role in the lives of the enslaved. “I was inspired by the idea of illumination,” he said. “To figuratively illuminate the forgotten history and memory of these enslaved people who sacrificed and contributed immeasurably to William & Mary for over half of the College’s history, and then to physically illuminate a shared space for community gathering and reflection for generations to come.”

Now that a concept has been selected, a building committee with faculty, staff, student and board of visitors representatives will hire an architect to develop the design.

Lucy Nordberg
TenderStream Head of Research

This competition was first published by TenderStream on 07.09.2018 here

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