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City of Alexandria, VA City of Alexandria, VA
Communications & Public Information
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Page updated Jul 1, 2008 9:08 AM
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 1, 2008    

City Council Authorizes Plan for Design Competition
To Develop Public Art Honoring Charles Houston

Art Will Be Displayed in Plaza of the Renovated Charles Houston Recreation Center

On Tuesday, June 24, the Alexandria City Council received a status report on the proposed public art honoring civil rights attorney Charles Houston, and authorized a plan to hold a design competition to select public art honoring Houston in the plaza of the renovated Charles Houston Recreation Center. The center is scheduled to reopen in the spring of 2009. The City Council authorized the City Manager to appoint a selection panel to oversee the design process for the public art. They also authorized Mayor William D. Euille to appoint a Charles Houston Art Project Stakeholder Advisory Group to work with City staff and the selection panel in choosing the finalist for the design competition. The Commission for the Arts will proceed with a plan to raise the $300,000 needed to pay for all aspects of the design competition and the public art chosen from the competition.

In October 2005, Councilman Ludwig Gaines recommended to City Council that the Charles Houston Recreation Center renovation project feature public art honoring the memory of Charles Houston. Charles Houston was an attorney of national reputation and a seminal figure in the civil rights movement. He used his expertise and influence to bring educational opportunity to Alexandria’s African American community. The Council endorsed Councilman Gaines’ recommendation that public art honoring Charles Houston be incorporated into the renovated Center, and requested that the Commission for the Arts coordinate with City staff and obtain input from the community to identify the type of public art that should be located at the center.

From September 2007 through May 2008, Pat Miller, Chair of the Commission for the Arts, and City staff met with representatives of numerous organizations and stakeholder groups to discuss the public art for Charles Houston. In addition, two community meetings and a public hearing were held to solicit public input. The Commission for the Arts made a final recommendation to City Council that a design competition be held to develop the public art honoring Charles Houston.

A design competition is expected to begin in the summer of 2008. The competition will be advertised widely and will target local, national, and minority participation. A selection panel will choose three semi-finalists by late fall, each of whom will receive a $1,000 honorarium to develop a concept model for the public art. The final proposals will be exhibited for a two-week public review period. Based on public comment, selection panel review, and Stakeholder Advisory Group input, one of the proposals will be chosen as the final concept to be recommended to City Council during the winter of 2009, in order for the art to be ready when the center reopens in the spring.

For more information, please contact Cheryl Anne Colton at 703.838.6348.