African American Civil Rights Trails Act and St. Louis

Congressman Lacy Clay, D- University City and Congressman Jason Smith, R-Salem, have co-authored the African American Civil Rights Trails Act, which will authorize the National Park Service to establish a program “to preserve and protect the memory of the people and places” in that struggle. For now, the bill does not name specific sites; however, Clay believes St. Louis should be the first stop on the trail, to commemorate Dred Scott. Clay has been key in supporting many sites in our region, including the Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing.

For over a decade, H3 Studio has worked with the local community leaders, neighbors, and historians to ensure the protection, interpretation and master planning this Freedom Trail and linking the region through the Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing, Missouri’s first nationally recognized Underground Railroad Site. It developed through a community effort into a national cultural destination in North St. Louis on the Riverfront Trail. It is a place to contemplate the courage shown by those individuals 160 years ago, where Mary Meachum and a man named Isaac helped 9 freedom seekers cross the Mississippi on their northern journey to freedom.

The 11 acre site adjacent to the Mississippi River flood wall was designed with the community as a sustainable, evocative, and artistic place to reflect. Key proposed design elements include story paths leading visitors through the crossing journey; the Wall of Remembrance engraved with names of enslaved African Americans of the area; Plinths engraved to tell the story of the times; an exterior amphitheater; stairs at the point of departure; an interpretive center; parking and restrooms; and a lighted tower on the east side of the river, as a beacon to freedom.

H3 Studio Finalist in Changing Course Competition

On the 22nd of September it was announced that H3 STUDIO as the lead of STUDIO MISI-ZIIBI team was selected as one of the three finalist teams to participate in the international design competition entitled "Changing Course: Navigating the Future of the Lower Mississippi River Delta." Team STUDIO MISI-ZIBBI an international, national and local collaboration of experts lead by H3 Studio was chosen after a global search, and will compete in the first phase of a design competition that seeks to develop approaches to restore the delta’s degraded ecosystem – while meeting the needs of navigation, coastal industries and the region’s unique communities and culture. Over the next five months, each team will develop a preferred design for the Lower Mississippi River system with the final designs being intended to assist Louisiana coastal planners and engineers with developing the state’s 2017 Coastal Master Plan.

“In a very strong competition, these winning teams stood out because their experts bridge strong regional knowledge with innovative ideas from deltas around the world,” said Carlton Dufrechou, general manager of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway and a member of the Changing Course leadership team. “We are confident these teams have the vision and experience to develop bold solutions for the delta and our people, economy and culture.”

STUDIO MISI-ZIIBI is comprised of 32 carefully selected firms and experts including: H3 STUDIO as team lead, URS, HKV, Robbert de Koning Landscape Architect, Colectivo, Delft University of Technology, Washington University in St Louis, M.I.T., HR&A Advisors, Dynamic Solutions, Bureau Drift Ecological Planning, Coastal Environments, Inc. AEP River Operations, and Louisiana-based experts from Louisiana State University, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Louisiana State University, University of New Orleans, and Tulane University

About Changing Course: Changing Course is a design competition aimed at developing innovative solutions to rebuild and protect the Louisiana coast. It is supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, Shell, Blue Moon Fund, Greater New Orleans Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The Selley Foundation and The Walton Family Foundation; with leadership support from Van Alen Institute, a nonprofit organization that mobilizes the power of design to transform cities, landscapes and regions to improve people’s lives, and Environmental Defense Fund, which has 30 years of experience in the Mississippi River Delta region; and with technical support from BuroHappold Engineering, a worldwide consulting and engineering firm.More information on Changing Course is available at Follow Changing Course on Twitter at @ChangingCourse and on Facebook at