Current Work: Inwood Sacred Sites

The Inwood Sacred Sites project design team discuss their evolving collaboration on a former burial ground for enslaved Africans and Lenape ceremonial site.

December 12, 2023

Recorded on November 15, 2023.

Current Work is a lecture series featuring leading figures in the worlds of architecture, urbanism, design, and art.

In this video, Mark Gardner of JAKLITSCH/GARDNER, Elizabeth Kennedy of EKLA, Joe Baker of the Lenape Center (prerecorded), and Peggy King Jorde, activist and cultural projects consultant, present the Inwood Sacred Sites project. Each speaker gives presentations individually before convening in a conversation moderated by Quilian Riano, dean of Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture.

In 2020, the Bowery Residents’ Committee learned that the Inwood lot on which they planned to build a shelter for those experiencing homelessness had been a burial ground for enslaved Africans and a Lenape ceremonial site. Leveled by city contractors in 1903 as the area was developed, the burial ground was destroyed and the remains exhumed and discarded.

The Inwood Sacred Sites project emerged from “a need to acknowledge and honor the history of the land as a site of colonial violence,” according to the project group. Made up of a design team, a community advisory group, BRC, and The Dyckman House, the Sacred Sites project is dedicated to creating a space to honor and make visible the lives of those who were lost.

The design team, JAKLITSCH/GARDNER Architects; Elizabeth Kennedy Landscape Architect (EKLA); and Joe Baker, artist and executive director of the Lenape Center, is working in close collaboration to craft a spatial narrative for the new center that recognizes those who once inhabited the land, reflects the site’s complex history, and fosters community interaction.