Undulating timber museum celebrates the end of African American slavery
Following the Plus and Zurich Airport - Dock A, the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) continues its embrace of sustainable timber construction with an eye-catching museum. The National Juneteenth Museum will be arranged into an undulating star-like shape and will be dedicated to telling the history of the Federal holiday and hosting exhibitions, discussions and events related to African American freedom.
The Juneteenth holiday falls on June 19 and celebrates the proclamation of freedom for enslaved African Americans in Texas, which was the last state to abolish slavery on that day in 1865. Subsequently growing across the US, it officially became a federal holiday last year when US President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law.
The National Juneteenth Museum is being created in collaboration with KAI Enterprises and "Grandmother of Juneteenth" Opal Lee. The building will be located in the historic Southside neighborhood in Fort Worth, Texas. It will be primarily constructed from engineered timber and its design is partly inspired by the gabled rooftops that define many of Southside's homes. The star-like design, meanwhile, references America's past and future.
"The museum's undulating roof creates a series of ridges, peaks, and valleys of varying heights that combine to create a 'nova star' shaped courtyard in the middle of the museum," explained BIG. "Meaning 'new star,' the nova star represents a new chapter for the African Americans looking ahead towards a more just future. The publicly accessible courtyard will be the anchor for the museum and its activities. At the center of the courtyard, a 'five point' star is engraved into the terrazzo pavement in gold, featuring 'starbursts' of varying warm concrete colors. In addition to representing Texas, the last state to adopt and acknowledge the freedom of African American slaves - the star nods to the American flag's 50 stars that represent all 50 US states, representing the freedom of African Americans across the country."
The building will measure 50,000 sq ft (4,645 sq m), which will be divided between gallery and exhibition spaces, a business incubator, a food hall, a flexible soundproof stage and a theater. Five street-level entrances will allow the galleries and exhibitions to be accessed as individual spaces, while two publicly-accessible corridors will connect directly to the courtyard.
Outside the museum building itself, a network of plazas will be installed and include lawns, native landscaping, and wooden seating, providing places for outdoor exhibitions, large-scale installations and gatherings.
The National Juneteenth Museum is due to begin construction some time in 2023.