Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery Memorial

Applications will be judged on their vision, collaboration and partnership, and design expertise. Round one submissions must include team details, a portfolio, three references and a 500-word narrative responding to the theme of reckoning and commemoration.

‘In particular, we are interested in creative visions that activate and make visible complex dynamics, such as: permanence and vitality; honour and rebuke; ecology and the built environment; institutional interest and the common good.

Four finalists will be invited to visit the campus in May and submit their concepts by August. An overall winner will be announced in December following a presentation of concepts to the university community.


‘We welcome submissions from individuals, collaboratives, and teams rooted in traditional or non-traditional memorial practices at any stage of their career.’

Founded and named after the Puritan clergyman John Harvard – Harvard University is the oldest higher education institution in the United States and many of its most prominent staff, faculty and benefactors were historically involved in enslavement.

Submissions will be expected to demonstrate ‘nuanced understanding’ of the recently published report of the Presidential Committee on Harvard & the Legacy of Slavery which investigated links between the institution and slavery.

Four shortlisted teams will each receive a $40,000 honorarium to draw up design concepts in the contest’s second stage. A final site for the new memorial – which is planned to complete in 2027 – has yet to be confirmed as several locations across the campus are currently under consideration.

The launch of the open call comes just a month after the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) announced it will be accepting entries for its annual, international Wheelwright Prize 2024 which is worth $100,000.

Open to artists, architects, designers, multidisciplinary teams, and other creators – the competition will select a team to deliver a new campus focal point for ‘commemoration and reflection, as well as for listening to and living with the university’s legacy of slavery.’

According to the brief: ‘We seek expressions of interest from those with investments of thought and practice in memorialization, ritual, community-building, history, and questions about the future.

The latest project – currently budgeted at $4 million inclusive of artist fees, materials, fabrication and construction costs – aims to create a new installation for ‘commemoration and reflection’ which explores the university’s history of direct, financial and intellectual connections to slavery and its legacy.