The project was nearing completion and was anticipating an April 2020 completion when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, which halted construction and delayed plans for a grand opening celebration that month.
Fortunately, while the pandemic has delayed a grand-opening celebration, WSP was able to adjust to the limitations and complete the project on schedule
“The University of Virginia staff was able to conduct a virtual site visit with the WSP team,” said Hurley, who was joined on the virtual tour by Melissa Sierra, WSP's senior electrical engineer on the project. “As local officials allowed businesses to reopen while following the necessary safety protocols, our counterparts in WSP’s Arlington office were able to conduct the final punch-list, enabling the project to still be completed in 2020.”
While the project is complete and open to the public, a formal dedication ceremony has not yet been held or scheduled, pending a time when university officials determine it will be safe to do so.
But almost immediately the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers has made an impact on the University of Virginia campus. Mark Warren, WSP managing director, noted that last June the memorial served as the gathering site of a demonstration in support of the Black Lives Matter movement honoring George Floyd, the man who died in May 2020 after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was recorded kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes.
“During these difficult times, it is our hope that this memorial will help bring hope and healing to people,” Warren said.
Tanya Adams, WSP national director of inclusion and diversity, shared Warren's appreciation of the importance of bringing the Memorial for Enslaved Laborers to the University of Virginia campus.
“Preserving history and portraying it honestly is so important,” Adams said. “I am proud to be part of a firm that played a role in recognizing the injustice of slavery. WSP believes in the principles of inclusion, diversity, equity and equality throughout the industry, with the projects we work on and in the places we live and raise our families.”
[To subscribe to Insights, contact the editorial staff at [email protected].]