(Christiansted, St. Croix – July 9, 2021) – The Virgin Islands Architecture Center for Built Heritage and Crafts, Inc. (VIAC) is excited to announce that it has received funding for its Project Development Conference for Design, Construction and Curriculum from the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs. VIAC received $286,310 for technical assistance to hire expertise to develop a feasibility study, convene the conference and produce a strategic development plan for design, construction, and curriculum.
“This funding is critical in helping us to meet our Phase One goals, and I would like to thank the Department of Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs,” said VIAC Board Chair Mary Dema. “We will be hiring a Project Development Consultant and others in the near future to assist us in laying the groundwork for raising the $10 million needed for completion of this project.”
VIAC is a St. Croix non-profit, 501(c)3, with a focus on community economic development. Its mission is to transform the Old Barracks property on Hospital Street, Christiansted, St. Croix into an urban campus and educational institute that will teach, train, and certify Virgin Islands young people in the building arts of stone, wood, iron, and other crafts prevalent in Virgin Islands and other historic U.S. and Caribbean towns. The school curriculum is envisioned as a two-year program that will provide a Certificate for students in Architecture. It will support students interested in achieving a Professional Architectural Degree through partnerships with architectural schools in Puerto Rico, US, Denmark, and Ghana. VIAC also intends to train its students to own and operate businesses connected to these crafts and be the catalyst for a cultural economic development corridor in the town of Christiansted.
VIAC’s vision is community driven as the idea for an architecture school that focuses on the African Danish built heritage of Virgin Islands towns came from town plan charettes sponsored by the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority. The community agreed that the development of a school that studied and recognized traditions while creating the opportunity for skills training, job creation, entrepreneurial activity and economic development could lead to the revitalization of Christiansted town. Through collaboration in the centennial In Search of Identity Project, seed funding was provided by the Virgin Islands Legislature, the Historic Houses of Denmark, and the Danish government.
“We are grateful for the support of Governor Bryan, Delegate Plaskett, Senate President Frett-Gregory, Senators Vialet, Francis, Whitaker, VIEDA, the St. Croix Foundation, the National Park Service and many others in the community as we move forward to make this vision come alive,” Dema added.