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View of Liverpool’s waterfront. Photo: Terry Kearney/Flickr.
View of Liverpool’s waterfront. Photo: Terry Kearney/Flickr.

David Adjaye, Theaster Gates, Mariam Kamara, and Asif Khan Chosen to Design Liverpool Waterfront

Architects David Adjaye, Mariam Kamara, and Asif Khan and artist Theaster Gates have been selected to redesign Liverpoool’s historic waterfront canning dock, winning a competition to transform the area hosted by National Museums Liverpool. The four were unanimously nominated by a jury composed of local officials and industry experts to perform the task, the purpose of which is to illuminate the history of the transatlantic slave trade. Liverpool in the eighteenth century was a slave-trade hub, its economy benefiting mightily from work performed on the canning docks, where slave ships frequently moored for repairs.

The team is to redevelop the area between the city’s Royal Albert Dock and Mann Island, and will redesign all waterfront facilities. The plan includes a public art initiative as well. Among the projected changes are a bridge connecting the pump house to the main island and the establishment of cultural and educational experiences at the two dry docks. The museum’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. building, which is more than 160 years old, is to receive a new entrance, with accessibility and wayfinding improved throughout the area.

The resdesign is part of a larger redevelopment of the area, projected to take a decade to complete. The controversial revamp saw Liverpool stripped of its Unesco World Heritage status this past summer. Unseco authorities condemned the redevelopment as almost certainly leading to an “irreversible loss of attributes conveying the outstanding universal value” of the historic docklands area. Liverpool mayor Joanne Anderson called the move “incomprehensible.” Though not aimed at the controversy, Khan’s recent statement regarding the project could perhaps be considered by all sides in search of perspective. “History is like the ocean, with all its depths and treachery,” Khan noted. “History can wash things away one day and bring them back like ghost ships the next.”