Meejin Yoon AIA
Meejin Yoon’s work moves seamlessly across scales, from the tactile detail to the territorial mark. She addresses large ideas—such as collective grieving or human migration—with intimate installations in public spaces.Full Biography
Meejin Yoon AIA
Principal and Co-founder, Höweler + Yoon Architecture
Women in Design Award of Excellence, 2016 winner
Meejin Yoon’s work moves seamlessly across scales, from the tactile detail to the territorial mark. She addresses large ideas- such as collective grieving or human migration- with intimate installations in public spaces. The Memorial to Enslaved Laborers at the University of Virginia (UVA) aims to understand the violence of bondage and the perserverence of the human spirit embedded in that university’s relationship with slavery.
Founded and designed by Thomas Jefferson, UVA is widely considered the quintessential university campus. Yet like many of its peer institutions the University depended on the labor of enslaved African American men, women and children. Constructed of local granite, “Virginia Mist,” the Memorial will create a space to gather, reflect, acknowledge, and honor the enslaved laborers who contributed to the University. Scholars estimate that at least 4,000 enslaved African Americans worked on the grounds, with many in residence, starting with the construction of the Lawn in 1817 and lasting through the end of the Civil War in 1865.
The memorial, nestled into the sloping landscape of a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the UVA campus, takes the form of two nested rings that break open to allow entrance at the tangent where they meet the ground. The inner face of the granite ring rises eight feet in the air and invites visitors to rest and reflect on the inscribed names of people who worked on the grounds. The interior of the ring contains a water table and timeline of the university’s history, and the circle of grass within provides a welcoming gathering space. Höweler + Yoon Architecture worked extensively with international historians and community representatives to ensure that the public was engaged throughout the design process.