Augment Richmond
PROBLEMRichmond needs more mechanisms to tell the complicated story of Monument Avenue.

SPARKVandalism reflects a desire to change the story in the public view.

OUTCOMEA platform that uses AR to encourage participation in the dialog around Monument Avenue.
background
In 2017, confederate monuments became ground zero for a series of violent protests across the southeastern United States. These events, sparked by the threat of removing confederate statues, mark the beginning of a long journey. A whopping 1,503 symbols of the confederacy still dominate public spaces across the nation.
A grassy mall lined with bronze generals called Monument Avenue has became Richmond’s site of counter-protests held in solidarity with other southern cities. In the wake of the mid- August riots in Charlottesville, Richmond’s Mayor Levar Stoney formed a commission to steer a public discussion on ideas for the monuments.
Regardless of feedback, any physical alteration to the monuments would involve a long legal battle at the state level. In the interim, the commission is prioritizing ways to offer context — largely through websites and partnerships with museums.
Even today, approaches to providing context on-site still result in small permanent plaques with vague language written by committees. At the same time, innovations in Civic Technology are on the rise, but remain heavily focused on issues around efficiency of cities. The same type of technology has not made its way into realm of cultural heritage.
ux strategy
Since 2011, the Jefferson Davis monument has been tagged on days following mass shootings, white supremacist rallies, and even after Trump was elected. As a user behavior, tagging reflects a desire to revise the inscriptions; spray paint acts as a form of analog augmented reality.
Year
2011
2015
2016
2017
2017
Tag
No Hero
Black Lives Matter
Your Vote Was a Hate Crime
Racist
Ban KKK
Event
--
Charleston Massacre
2016 Election
Unite the Right Rally
Unite the Right Rally
outcome
As interest groups explore options for removal, preservation, or contextualization, the monuments remain as they were originally built. Augment Richmond is a platform that uses augmented reality to bring people into the mindset to participate in discussions around Monument Avenue.
Augment Richmond

ROTATE SCREEN OR EXPAND YOUR BROWSER
TO VIEW PROTOTYPE

Open the app, and search for Augment Richmond sites around you.
At each location, guest contributors provide context about the monuments.
Respond to a prompt that will serve as your revision of the monument's inscription.
Share your revision to social media or as a supplement to messages for interest groups. Revisions will also be discoverable by other users on-site.
Polls and virtual picket signs are two examples of other ways to utilize augmented reality for other sites.
Open the app, and search for Augment Richmond sites around you.
At each location, you can read or listen to content by guest contributors, who offer context about the monuments.
After learning about a site, you can respond to a prompt. This will serve as your revision of the monument's inscription.
Share your revision to social media or as a supplement to messages for interest groups. Revisions will also be discoverable by other users on-site.
Polls and virtual picket signs are two examples of other ways to utilize augmented reality for other sites.
Call to action
Augment Richmond enables users to send their revision to the interest group of their choice. Their opinion on Monument Avenue is expressed through a letter generated by the app, accompanied by an image of their revision. Seeing users' revisions rendered on the monuments offers an impactful way to inform a tone for more permanent signage.
USER personas
the facebook essayist
Outspoken about social justice issues, writes long cathartic posts on social media that often spur commentary, would like more visually impactful ways to express their views.
THE engaged neighbor
Shows up at public meetings, writes letters to stakeholders to voice stance on local politics, open to new creative ways to have their voice heard about local issues.
the baffled tourist
Visiting richmond based on listicles - enjoys learning about history experientially - sees monument avenue as more of a roadside attraction
WIREFRAMES
We repurposed Spotify's behind the music Genius feature to incorporate the voices of New Orleans chefs and historians who guide people through recipes. For the Spotify kitchen companion, Jambalaya or Red beans and Rice are treated as the rich story behind the music.
VIEW DOCUMENTATION
scalability
Not only could the strategy behind Augment Richmond extend to other locations or topics — it could also serve as a storytelling tool for other types of cultural heritage. Augment Richmond lives in a larger body of a research project that advocates for a new field of Cultural Tech. The project began by questioning how the advancements of Civic Tech might find a space for cultural heritage. The project developed strategies for incorporating technology as participatory and/or storytelling tool for historic districts, buildings, sites, and monuments. What does cultural interpretation look like in the city of the future? Read more about the Cultural Tech project here.
MY ROLE (independent study)
Archival Research
UX Strategy
UX Design
Visual Design
UI Prototyping
TOOLS
Adobe XD
Illustrator
Keynote
AREAS OF INTEREST
Civic & Cultural Tech
Historic Preservation
Social Impact Design
ADVISORS
Andrew LeVasseur, faculty advisor
Kelly Prudente, AR feasibility