FSU Architecture and Interior Design Students Win Design Competition to Commemorate Local Enslaved Population

FSU architecture and interior design students Hannah Smith, Alana Houston and Sarah Rifqi.

Three Florida State University Department of Interior Architecture and Design graduate students were selected as winners of the Goodwood Museum & Gardens Memorial to the Enslaved Competition.

Students Hannah Smith, Alana Houston and Sarah Rifqi, who were mentored by Assistant Professor Meghan Mick, received $1,000 for their winning design of ‘A Bridge to the Stars’.

Once built, it will serve as a memorial to those who were enslaved on Tallahassee property between 1832 and 1865 and serve as a place to honor the past, heal in the present, and encourage social justice in the future.

“This design offers the potential and powerful means to recall and honor memories through its use of space, water, light and text,” said Jill Pable, Chair of the Department of Architecture and of FSU interior design. “Each of these elements serve to celebrate and pay homage to slave life and encourage visitors to engage in meaningful dialogue.”

Goodwood works with design students, local artists and fabricators to determine the construction schedule and costs.

“This collaborative design is the cornerstone of several years of planning by a diverse group of stakeholders, including a descendant of one of Goodwood’s enslaved workers, scholars, historians, researchers and artists,” Humayun said. “We are committed to sharing an honest and inclusive story with the public and this is another way of doing it.”

Now known as the Goodwood Museum & Gardens, the old plantation was located between the Ochlockonee and Aucilla rivers and was one of many in Florida to benefit from slave labor.

“The lives of slaves were rarely documented, but Goodwood painstakingly combed through historical records and archival sources to learn the names and histories of as many of them as possible,” said Jennifer Humayun, executive director of the Goodwood Museum and Gardens. “The design of this memorial serves as a place where people come together to learn, commemorate the lives of slaves and honor them as the individuals they were.”

According to Humayun, despite many efforts, the exact location of the slave quarters and graves is unknown. The competition is an ongoing effort to preserve this history.

“After walking through the Goodwood property and acknowledging the treatment the slaves endured, I was encouraged to accept their hidden identities and struggles that were underplayed in the design of the memorial,” Rifqi said. “I really hope our design helps to appreciate these people and give something back to the Tallahassee community.”

The students’ proposal is a multi-faceted design that will feature a bridge with beams to symbolize the strength that slaves embodied as they bore the brunt of being forced to work in bondage. The design concept envisions visitors crossing a low bridge, reading the names of slaves. In the evening, lights will illuminate the space. Reminiscent of stars, the lights represent a life of freedom that slaves could not live.

“Alana, Sarah and Hannah really took on this design challenge and came up with a unique and thoughtful solution – one that is rooted in the stories of the slave experiences at Goodwood,” Mick said. “In addition to highlighting documented history, their design invites visitors to engage more, change their perspective and hopefully see these people in a different light.” It’s a powerful message, and I’m glad it’s on the Goodwood pitch.

To honor the winners, entrants and supporters of the Memorial to Enslaved design competition, Goodwood will host a public reception from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on March 30.

For more information on Goodwood Museum & Gardens, please visit https://interiordesign.fsu.edu/ and https://www.goodwoodmuseum.org/.

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