Howard University Students Study Potential Futures for Divinity School Site

  • March 12th 2021

by Nena Perry-Brown

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Divinity School East. Click to enlarge.

Amid Howard University being knee-deep in planning for the future of their Central Campus and property holdings off Georgia Avenue NW, the plans for their old Divinity School campus in Brookland (map) have been on the back burner.

In 2017, Howard selected a development team for the 23-acre property led by FLGA Real Estate and ZOM Living. Some charrettes and overarching visions for the property followed in 2019, although nothing has been set in stone yet.

In the meantime, some current professors, students and alumni have been working on their own vision for the East Campus.

Rendering from “Managed Multi-purpose Memorial Campus” concept. Click to enlarge.

Led by Howard University adjunct professor Curry Hackett and City College of New York adjunct professor Jerome Haferd, architecture students from both schools conducted case studies for the Divinity School East campus last summer and fall. Their visions largely retain the institutional use of the property while paying homage to long-ago indigenous occupants and enslaved workers of the land.

Rendering from “Ritual as Intervention” concept. Click to enlarge.

"I think there is a desire to kind of reimagine the site in a way that fully understands what's at stake here," Hackett said at a meeting held this week by ANC 5B02 Commissioner Ursula Higgins, who represents the single member district that encompasses the site.

"My position is that this is a Black landscape, so there's real spiritual and cultural and aesthetic implications here that are quite profound, and I would just hate to see this undermined by potentially myopic approaches that don't fully consider the Black and indigenous presence on the site, especially in the name of efficiency or broader fiscal concerns. There's environmental and social ways of being profitable as well."

The school's planning thus far has envisioned a variety of low- to moderate-density housing along the fringes of the campus. Representatives from the University and from the selected development firms expressed a desire to keep the conversation going and ensure that past and present students have input moving forward.

CORRECTION: Haferd's role has been corrected since publication; it has also been clarified that CCNY students participated in the case studies. 

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/howard-university-students-study-potential-futures-for-the-divinity-school-/17994.

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