Published July 12, 2021
UB students participating in the annual Diversity + Design Competition have generated a series of thoughtful proposals for a memorial to victims of COVID-19.
Their design concepts are the result of an annual competition organized by UB associate professor of architecture Beth Tauke as part her course, “American Diversity & Design” (ARC 211).
The general education course – open to undergraduates from all majors – introduces students to the everyday ways design can make visible and better accommodate the needs of an increasingly diverse population. Writings, films, products, graphics, electronic media, buildings and environments by and about diverse individuals and groups are examined, as are the histories of our diverse physical and media environments.
This year’s competition honors the more than 3.7 million lives taken by COVID-19, inviting students to focus their memorial concepts on victims from underrepresented groups, many of which have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
Tauke, an internationally regarded scholar and educator in inclusive design, organized the competition to raise awareness of COVID-19’s impact on underserved communities in the U.S., while also advancing innovative, cross-disciplinary approaches to inclusive environments.
Working in groups, students targeted their proposals on a single underrepresented group (e.g., incarcerated individuals), and a specific site of installation (e.g., the exercise yard of Attica State Penitentiary). With “memorial” broadly defined, students were invited to consider formats as diverse as landmark objects, works of art, physical and digital environments, communication design and urban design.
Read on for more information on the winning proposals, which also can be viewed on the Diversity + Design Competition website. Students also exhibited their concepts virtually at the UB Inclusive Excellence Summit on April 8, 2021.
The memorial by Jun Woo Park: Each lantern represents the individual living in poverty who lost their lives due to the Covid-19. Every lantern has unique stories. Even though they left us, we would not forget them. As they brighten the night sky, they will never be forgotten.
Behind the mask by Hannah Ruth: Members and family of the physically disabled community will be able to express their personal struggles caused by COVID-19 by writing on burgundy masks and tying them to the fence along the waterfront.
Close to tears by Yosi Hoffman: Two tear shaped pools contain the names of elderly victims of the COVID pandemic beneath a shallow body of water. The names are submerged to represent the distance felt by the victims during the pandemic, and for many, at the time of their passing.
Earning a tie for first place are Jun Woo Park (BS Computer Science), Yosi Hoffman (BA Environmental Design) and Hanna Ruth (BS Architecture). Park curates a website for his proposal that shares stories of individuals who lived in poverty and lost their lives to the pandemic. Each story is poetically represented as a lantern – brightening the night sky and never forgotten. Hoffman depicts the narrative as an installation at Buffalo’s historic Gates Circle, with a water feature in the shape of tears and names of victims submerged to convey the distance felt by victims during the pandemic. Ruth’s proposal, aptly titled ‘Behind the mask,’ renders the inequitable and unrecognized experiences of those with physical disabilities through a design intervention along boardwalk.
A Memorial for African Americans Lost to Covid-19 by Rachel Ragonese: Displayed is an isometric view of the memorial, a series of 4 intimate performing spaces with walls to display artwork.
Attica Correctional Facility COVID-19 Memorial Basketball Court by Brandon Rau: This memorial is a basketball court designed to creatively display the names of prisoners who have passed away from COVID-19 in Attica Correctional Facility and other prisons across the United States.
"Special" trees by Adam Daghestani: There will be one red maple tree planted along the Autism nature trail at Letchworth State park for each soul lost to COVID-19 that also battled against a cognitive disability.
Tying for second place are ‘A memorial for African Americans lost to COVID-19’ by Rachel Ragonese, ‘Special Trees’ by Adam Dageshtani and ‘Attica Correctional Facility COVID-19 Memorial Basketball Court’ by Brandon Rau.
One Piece of a Whole Puzzle by Julia Ferone: Each puzzle piece represents the name of a child with autism who lost their lives to the COVID-19 pandemic
Trumpville by Mark Chen: The project is a depiction of a group of stone homeless people attempting to shelter on a stone bench.
Memories of voice by Hao Li: A special 'phone booth' to share stories from those families that were destroyed by the pandemic.
Hao Li, Mark Chen and Julia Ferone placed third with their propositions namely ‘Memoirs of voice’, ‘Trumpville’ and ‘One piece of a whole puzzle.’
A special thank you to the team of teaching assistants working with Beth Tauke: Ionna Dinoulis, Jennifer Persico, Aleiya Als, Joshua Diamond, Jamie Jones, Bethany Greenway, Courtney Vona, Lydia Ho, Jake Barkan, Bhalendu Guatam, and Kwabena Adonu.