2021 James Templeton Kelley Prize: Calvin Boyd’s “Pair of Dice, Para-Dice, Paradise: A Counter-Memorial to Victims of Police Brutality”

Rendering of pedestrians looking into negative void memorial

by Calvin Boyd (MArch I '21) — Recipient of the James Templeton Kelley Prize, Master in Architecture I

Animation showing the National Museum of African American History with Calvin Boyd's counter-memorial burning besides it.
The counter-memorial aflame after the addition of too many counter-voids and their lenses – simply one of many future realities. Will America get its act together, or will it burn?

This thesis is a proposal for a counter-memorial to victims of police brutality. The counter-memorial addresses scale by being both local and national, addresses materiality by privileging Black aesthetics over politeness, addresses presence/absence by being more transient than permanent, and lastly, addresses site by being collective rather than singular. The result is an architecture that plays itself out at over 18,000 police stations across America and at the Washington Monument on the National Mall. The two sites are intrinsically linked through the architecture itself: negative “voids” at police stations have positive counterparts aggregated at the Mall.  

The critical question here is whether or not the system in which police brutality takes place can be reformed from within, or if people of color need to seek their utopia outside of these too-ironclad structures. This counter-memorial, when understood as an instrument of accountability (and therefore a real-time beacon that measures America’s capacity to either change or otherwise repeat the same violent patterns), ultimately provides us with an eventual answer.