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ArchDC Fall 2017.qxp_Fall 2017  8/10/17  1:06 PM  Page 5

              FROM THERE TO HERE

             Bradley W. Johnson  This past July 4th, I was in Antwerp, Belgium, where I visited the
                              Red Star Line Museum. The museum, which opened in 2013, uses
                              three historic port buildings to tell the story of two million people
                              who fled persecution and poor economic prospects to board Red
                              Star Line passenger ships in Antwerp in the late 19th and early 20th
                              centuries in search of a better life in the United States and Canada.
                              We all know the story of European immigrants arriving at Ellis
                              Island, but the Red Star Line buildings in Antwerp are where many
                              of their voyages began.
                                   As I walked through the museum—a beautiful facility
              designed by Beyer Blinder Belle, which has an office here in Washington—I was moved
              by how much courage it must have taken for these people (no matter what conditions
              they faced in their home countries) to leave behind all that they knew and travel with few
              possessions to a distant and only vaguely understood new land. Many of them, the
              museum makes clear, undertook arduous journeys just to reach Antwerp from Russia
              and other parts of Europe.
                      Beyer Blinder Belle’s design for the museum includes a new observation tower,
              shaped somewhat like a ship’s bow, which overlooks Antwerp’s now-sprawling modern
              port facility on the Scheldt River. Embedded in the floor of the overlook platform are seven
              small metal arrowheads, each indicating a European point of origin for the emigrants.
              They all point to a metal star symbolizing Antwerp and the Red Star Line. And then
              pointing away from the star, in the direction of the Scheldt and the Atlantic beyond, are
              seven more metal arrowheads indicating the US and Canadian destinations of Red Star
              Line ships. It is a quietly beautiful design detail.

                      Standing at the overlook and gazing out toward the sea, I wondered what those
              emigrants must have felt as they boarded ships for a long journey to an uncertain future.
              I felt great respect for the people who took that gamble, and wondered if I would have
              been able to do the same.
                                                                    (continued on next page)

              Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp, Belgium. The renovation
              and addition to the historic buildings were designed by
              Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners LLP.

                  Photo courtesy Red Star Line Museum, Filip Dujardin               WELCOME                      5
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