A team featuring Danish architect Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and African American-owned firm KAI Enterprises has unveiled the design for the 50,000 sq ft National Juneteenth Museum in Fort Worth, in north central Texas.
The museum is dedicated to preserving the history of Juneteenth, commemorating the “breaking of the chains”, the emancipation of enslaved African Americans which occurred on June 19, 1865.
The museum is spearheaded by American activist Opal Lee, an activist and former teacher, who is known as the “grandmother of Juneteenth”.
The design’s gabled rooftops reference Fort Worth’s historic Southside neighbourhood.
The pointed roofs also represent the nova star, meaning ‘new star’, which hopes to symbolise a new chapter for African Americans.
At the centre of a public courtyard is a ‘five point’ star engraved in gold, representing not only Texas as the lone star state, but also the American flag’s 50 stars, representing the freedom of African Americans across the country.
Opal Lee, said: “Seeing the national museum moving forward is a dream fulfilled. I’ve had a little Juneteenth Museum in that very spot for almost 20 years, and to see it become a central place for discussion, collaboration and learning seems to be the providential next step – from my walking campaign to Washington, D.C., the petition, and having Juneteenth declared a federal holiday. It’s mind-boggling, but I’m glad to see it all come to pass.”
Douglass Alligood, BIG partner, said: “As a black architect, this project is one of the most rewarding experiences of my career…After nearly 40 years in this profession, I have the opportunity to lead a design for a project that is focused on African American culture.
“Our engagement with Ms. Opal Lee is what informed a lot of the design principles; our hope is that this building will become a gateway to the Historic Southside community of Fort Worth while serving as a national and global destination. Juneteenth is not only American history – it is world history.”
Construction of the National Juneteenth Museum is due to begin in 2023.