unbury: Monument Architectural Design


  • concept
  • site research
  • architectural renderings
  • board design
  • presentation


While city planners intended urban renewal in the 1950s to improve Harrisonburg, it destroyed large sections of the Newtown neighborhood. Homes were burned and bulldozed and what was once a self-sufficient neighborhood with its own distinctive culture was buried under pavement. Our aim is not to dig up the past but rather to unbury it. We are not archaeologists looking to discover, but skeptics looking to uncover what has been intentionally buried. This project will unbury what was covered by pavement and bring attention to such injustices.

The memorial will expose the past and the wounds inflicted by a process that was intended for good. Located in the corner of Roses’ empty parking lot – once city lot 7B6 – the memorial will match the footprint of former homes. Submerged in a section of that partially excavated lot, it will form a gently sloping downward swell in the urban landscape, evoking the emptiness caused by urban renewal through the physical absence of earth. Within this intrusion will stand the partially uncovered foundations of the houses that once stood in that location — foundations unburied. Opposite the intrusion will be its inverse, a mound formed from the removed earth of the former, which gently rises above the ground plane and provides a viewing platform from which the city, the emptiness of urban renewal, and the submerged foundations can be contemplated from above.

The ground surface will be grass, surrounding concrete foundations. Within the footprint of foundations, trees will be planted—their growth over time symbolizing a resurrection of the past. As a result, the footprint of buried homes will reemerge. At its center, deepest point, the occupant will not be able to look outward, only to the sky, therefore confronted with the surrounding shells of past homes. When someone reemerges, they will be faced with the direct contrast of the present — an emptiness in place of the fullness that once was. This immersive, juxtaposed experience will bring attention and awareness, unburying injustices
of the past.

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