‘Ark of Return’ Unveiled- A Memorial to the Victims of Slavery opens at the United Nations Headquarters in New York

‘Ark of Return’ Unveiled- A Memorial to the Victims of Slavery opens at the United Nations Headquarters in New York

A Memorial Honoring Victims of Slavery Opens at the UN Headquarters in New York City

AWA Lighting Designers were honored and humbled to be selected by Rodney Leon of Rodney Leon Architects, to provide lighting design services for this landmark project. The project is located at the UN Plaza in NYC, and was recently opened to critical acclaim. The ‘Ark of Return’ is a memorial in honor of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, and will be permanently on display at the Plaza at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.

The memorial project process was started over five years ago by UNESCO and the Permanent Memorial Committee. The memorial was conceived with support from the UN Department of Public Information’s Remember Slavery Programme, and Member States from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the African Union. The Permanent Representative of Jamaica, Courtenay Rattray, served as chair of the Permanent Memorial Committee. Several nations, along with UNESCO, helped raise over $1.7 million to build the memorial.

The concept for the design of the memorial by Rodney Leon emerged from three important elements that individually and collectively generated the design solution.
• Acknowledge the Tragedy
• Consider the Legacy
• Lest We Forget
The lighting design solution aimed to create a respectful space, that augmented the visitors journey through the ‘Ark of Return’ – conceptually, psychologically and spiritually – to a place where acknowledgement, education, reflection and healing can take place.

CLIENT: United Nations
ARCHITECT: Rodney Leon Architects
YEAR: 2014 – 2015

Press Release: AWA_ArkofReturn_PressRelease_July2015






View of the Memorial from the Plaza- 59th Street Bridge and Long Island City in the background

The Trinity Figure- A deeply moving depiction of the forced travel

Secretary General Bahn-Ki Moon Inaugurates the Memorial

As you enter the Memorial from the North- UN Secretariat in the Background















































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