February 6, 2020
“Home in Lenapehoking” Tammany Hall and the Lenape Center featured in Urban Omnibus
The Architectural League of New York’s Urban Omnibus features our collaboration with the Lenape Center in their most recent issue. The editors spoke with Joe Baker and Hadrien Coumans, the Lenape Center’s co-founders and co-directors about their efforts to bring the original peoples and their culture back home in the 21st century.
Check out our concept for a Lenape Center home in Manhattan’s Inwood Hill Park. Read the full interview, which also highlights our work with the Center on the turtle shell dome at Tammany Hall.
Urban Omnibus: What could that civic understanding look like here? You recently worked with the architects of the renovation of Tammany Hall on a new dome for the building.
Hadrien Coumans: Tammany Hall is an example of how an architectural firm has, from the beginning, done everything in the best way to bring out a sense of recognition and place of honoring the original people. I credit Todd Poisson for having led the most thoughtful effort to include the Lenape every step of the way. We’re very happy with the glass turtle dome roof, and it’s rare to have an example in the city of thorough consultation that resulted in something that is really a new landmark. Tammany Hall, as a political organization, did not care for the well-being of the Lenape, and was using a romanticized notion of a chief. It’s exciting to have an architectural firm realize the misappropriation of this name historically, but also see that there is an opportunity to bring in authentic, legitimate voice and representation into the story. That’s more exciting than a monument — that’s actually creating change.
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The Lenape Center was established in 2008 with the mission of continuing Lenapehoking. The organization’s work has taken various forms, from staging an opera on the purchase of Manhattan, to consulting with BKSK Architects on Tammany Hall’s new turtle shell-inspired dome, and planting indigenous corn in the city’s community gardens. They also partner with other organizations seeking to promote the living culture of the Lenape.
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