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UVA Grad Students Create Redesigns of Emancipation Park

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display at CitySpace display at CitySpace
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

A group of University of Virginia students is making proposals to redesign Emancipation Park.

The project was inspired after this past summer's deadly events in August. It was put on display Friday night for people to give input and learn more about the history of Charlottesville.

This idea came about from an architecture course at UVA. Students did research on the history of the parks and Charlottesville, they then had to create a design and make a controversial decision, what to do with the statue of Robert E. Lee.

UVA students had no idea what they were getting themselves into when they took on professor Karen Van Lengen's architecture course this past semester.

This was a really hot issue. Yes, I was nervous to take it on because it's a hard problem. And one wants to take it on seriously and thoughtfully and carefully,” Van Lengen said.

Van Lengen typically has her students do a semester long design-project, but with the events of this past august in Emancipation Park, she took a new approach.

"Generally my main idea was to reveal all these erased and hidden memories,” grad student Mert Kansu said.

Thirteen graduate and undergrad students were prompted to re-design Emancipation Park. They not only studied the architecture design of the area, but the history as well.

"At the time of emancipation actually, Charlottesville was actually 52 percent African American, so the idea to me that this statue of lee would represent the history of the place is sort of a false narrative,” grad student Sam Johnson said.

Students were also faced with the task of what to do with the controversial Robert E. Lee statue.

"Robert E. Lee statue as an object is not there anymore,” Kansu said.

"I actually took the statue and broke it up into 13,916 pieces which represents the population of the African-American community of Albemarle County at the time,” Johnson said.

“I chose to have the statue part itself removed, but I left the plint, the concrete platform that it sits on, so that there is a reminder of the history, not only of that object but of how it got there, grad student James Atkins said.

Their final hardwork was put on display for community members to see at CitySpace.

"Embedded in all of the solutions that you see here, all the projects, is an attempt to understand the role of sound and communication in the public realm,” Van Lengen said.

Those proposals won't actually be sent in for review, but they will be on display for the entire month of February down at CitySpace.