Whether to keep Confederate statues in public spaces is an ongoing debate in cities across the U.S. Richmond, Virginia takes the hot seat in the Monument Avenue: General Demotion/General Devotion competition, which Storefront for Community Design and mObstudiO at Virginia Commonwealth University announced last month.
Now open for registration, the national ideas competition invites architects, artists, urban planners, and the like to reimagine Monument Avenue in Richmond, while considering the avenue's historical context and the current Confederate statue debate. First developed to encourage westward expansion of the city, Monument Avenue has statues memorializing Confederate figures Robert E. Lee, J.E.B. Stuart, and Jefferson Davis. It also includes statues of Stonewall Jackson, Matthew Fontaine Maury, and the most recent statue of Arthur Ashe that was added in 1996.
According to the competition brief, recent debate has focused on four main strategies, which entrants ought to consider in creating their proposals:
1. The City of Richmond and the Commonwealth of Virginia should maintain the status quo on Monument Avenue. Some argue that Monument Avenue is a significant artifact of Richmond history and should be preserved as it stands.
2. The Confederate statues need context. Some argue that context that would frame the roles of the Confederacy and the men immortalized in the statuary as players in Richmond’s, Virginia’s and the nation’s history.
3. Create more statues along the 5.4-mile length of Monument Avenue while leaving the existing statuary.
4. The removal of all or some of the Confederate statuary. Some argue that the Confederate statues should be destroyed, moved to a museum or historic park, returned to the organizations that originally funded their construction, or placed in storage.
Registration is open through September 15, 2018, and competition entries are due December 1, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Jurors' winning selections and a People's Choice Award are currently expected to be announced on November 20, 2019. For more competition details, visit monumentavenuegdgd.com.
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