EwingCole Team
Click on any of the images below to see a larger version.
EwingCole Model – photo provided by EwingCole.
EwingCole Model – photo provided by EwingCole.

Explanation of Model Provided by EwingCole Team


The EwingCole team was inspired by the primary research and efforts of the historians and advocates for telling the complete story of this site. The challenge to find a compelling concept that is intellectually defensible with limited source material as well as the need to weave the core themes and cultural values informed our decision to minimize the use of text panels.

Storytelling as the Activity, Sound as the Medium

Storytelling, a traditional way of learning, is the tradition that engages all ages and backgrounds across many boundaries. We propose to enact stories with authenticated voices, music and sounds to provide a balanced view of history, where the 'voices of written history' and the 'voices of history lost and found' will be heard. Using this as the starting point for the content and physical design, we chose as our guide, ' Giving Voices to all Stories '.

Ten primary stories up to two minutes each will be developed. Each will be marked on the site by a granite icon. To encourage scholarship and community engagement, EwingCole team will create an endowment of $50,000 to provide grants over five years to encourage research projects and scholarship regarding this site and the people who lived here.

Sound from speakers imbedded in walls will envelop visitors around the site. Using conventional and 3-D technologies we will create environments of sound, where the dominant voice in the center as well as the whisper in the corner and sounds of horses on the street are heard as visitors move around a room.

EwingCole Model – photo provided by EwingCole.
EwingCole Model – photo provided by EwingCole.

Environmental Context and Design Response

The site is not hospitable to telling these stories or creating a solemn memorial. It is physically dominated by the new Liberty Bell Center, whose porch and columns disturb a significant part of the site as well as the sounds and visual clutter of the adjacent City.

The Memorial will have a primary entrance on Market Street distinct from the cue entrance for the Liberty Bell Center. Visitors are given choice to enter at many other locations and to bypass any of the core storytelling locations as they choose.

Within the house, walls partially enclose spaces to provide visual and acoustical isolation, and imply a direction for visitor movement, while allowing choice. Minimal text and images are engraved on the walls where source material is available to add visual interest and to assist the hearing impaired.

Overlaying this simple approach is using the cue of voices and sound to provide a physical expression or signature for the rest of the physical design:

  1. Voices of History Written, represented at the bay window in the State Dining Room where Washington and Adams defined the presidency. Heard is represented by the sound wave of the normal speaking voices (40 decibels) and spaced accordingly.
  2. Voices of History Lost and Found, represented at the Slaves' Quarters, where the nine enslaved Africans dwelled. Unheard (20 decibels) just below the audible level, is spaced at twice the density.
The resultant geometry of radiating sounds from each locus forms the overhead pattern of the trellis that covers the yards and open spaces. As the plantings grow, shade and visual enclosure on the site improve, creating a welcome and shady environment for visitors. The intersections of these radiating voices are supports or columns representing the nameless millions.
EwingCole Model – City photo
EwingCole Model – City photo

Core Story Locations - Two Examples

  1. The Slaves' Quarters Memorial - Connecting Generations
    • Concentric circles of glass encircling the locus of the Slaves' Quarters form the Memorial. On the glass are images of faces. At the core are the oldest (such as Oney Judge, Hercules, Richard Allen). As the layers radiate outward, images from later eras culminate with smaller scale faces from contemporary Philadelphia.
    • Today's images will come from a community camera engaging Philadelphia school children in a self-documentation project. We will provide 500 disposable digital cameras through the School District to take multi-generation photographs. A collage of images on glass will link history, ancestors and visitors, the past and present.
  2. Garden of Contemporary Voices
    • After the Slaves' Quarters Memorial, the walled garden of contemporary voices will present contemporary voices to be heard. As the design process proceeds, we can consider the scope and form of this Garden, and perhaps create a place to capture the responses of visitors allowing them to be heard in the future.

As an outcome, we hope to move them to understand the contradictions of ideals and realities in the founding years of this country that echo today by Giving Voice to all Stories.

EwingCole Team Members

Team Prime

EwingCole, Architects and Engineers
Todd Rader + Amy Crews, Landscape Architects
Eisterhold Associates Inc., Exhibit Design
Charles Morrow Productions, LLC, Sound Design and Production

Historians & Authenticators
Dr. Spencer Crew, Lead Historian, Director, National Underground Railroad and Freedom Center
Dr. Clement Price, Historian, Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience (IECME)

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation:

  • Rex Ellis - Director and voice of the slave Jeremy Prophitt
  • Ron Carnegie - Period speech expert and voice of George Washington
  • Donn Judd - Recording Engineer

Scott Odell - Colonial music instrumentation & traditions
James Jordon - Period music

Ramos & Associates Inc, General Contractors

This photograph shows the south side of the 500 block of Market Street in 1949. The surviving eastern wall of the President's House is at center. The "ghost" of the President's House is outlined in red. From the Evening Bulletin Newspaper Collection, Urban Archives, Temple University.  Overlay: Edward Lawler Jr. Mantelpiece from the President's House. In the Historical Society of Pennsylvania Collection, Atwater Kent Museum. Photo by Jack E. Boucher, ca. 1965. Historic American Buildings Survey, no. PA-1942. "Washington's Residence, High Street." Lithograph by William L. Breton. From John Fanning Watson's Annals of Philadelphia (Philadelphia, 1830)