Congratulations to Matthew Schrage (3rd Year) and Ryan Burnett (5th Year), they are the School of Architecture + Design’s finalists for the AIA Virginia Prize. More than 200 students participated in the weekend competition, which asked students to “design a pillar installation for the City of Alexandria’s Market Square.” Below are some of the thoughts Matthew and Ryan had while designing:

Matthew: "My response takes an alternative approach to what was implied by the prompt, an approach that unambiguously addresses systemic racism as a modern issue, with a clear lineage through America’s racist past. Police violence against Black Americans persisted throughout our history, and continues to persist, as a constant overarching veil, continually dismissed or justified, and thus constituted the thesis of the project. Through heavy, polished marble blocks corresponding to the Black victims’ heights, they are portrayed as strong, and hold a bodily presence and permanence in Alexandria’s, and America’s, history. If the project was taken to fruition, the design process would include Black architects, historians, and activists to ensure an accurate representation."

Ryan: "A corten pillar from the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama is placed in the center of the fountain in Alexandria's Market Square. Two paths extend outward from the site across streets and city blocks, visibly connecting the pillar to the lynching sites of Joseph McCoy and Benjamin Thomas.
As the pillar itself has already been designed through a collaborative effort between the Equal Justice Initiative and other experts, the main goal of my design is simply to let the memorial speak. This subtle approach aims to wholly integrate the memorial into the fabric of Alexandria so its message can become a part of the city as well."