EYA, LLC and the City of Alexandria Archaeology received the national “Culture Builds Community Award,” presented at the National Press Club on Nov. 12 by Partners for Livable Communities, a Washington-based nonprofit.

Partners announced the honor as part of the “Celebrating Champions of Livability” national awards program, which recognized 23 individuals, four organizations and two communities for their role in shaping a more livable, sustainable and equitable America.

The Culture Builds Community Award honors projects and individuals who foster community engagement using the arts and heritage as building blocks for community value and participation.  

Photo: EYA, LLA Vice President of Land Acquisition and Development Evan Goldman; Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg; Alexandria Archaeologist Dr. Eleanor Breen (courtesy photo)

The City of Alexandria Archaeology and EYA, LLC, developers of innovative urban neighborhoods including Robinson Landing in Old Town Alexandria, have formed a unique partnership to preserve and highlight the historic importance of the city’s waterfront.

During its long history, Alexandria boasted one of the busiest seaports in America. It was common at that time to use derelict boats as the fill to expand waterfronts, and build new wharves and piers.

In the course of EYA’s recent excavations for the new development at Robinson Landing, they began unearthing pieces of these forgotten vessels. Working closely with Alexandria Archeology and under the nearly 30-year-old Archaeological Protection Code, EYA and its contractor WSSI Thunderbird Archeology embarked on the most extensive effort to date to investigate, document and preserve artifacts that go back to the founding of this early-American seaport.

EYA engaged and funded a team of archeologists to research the history of the property and applied this information to painstakingly excavate the site over an 18-month period. This effort resulted in the discovery of more than 150 individual features and over 100,000 artifacts.  The major discovery of three 18th century ships marked this as one of the most significant archeological sites in Virginia.

Recognizing immense interest from civilians and academics alike, EYA coordinated a public viewing of the archeological work in progress. The company plans to gift all of the artifacts, including the three ships, to the City for study and eventual exhibition that will further public understanding and appreciation of Alexandria’s rich history. These ships, coupled with a fourth that was discovered in 2015 at an adjoining property, now form the corpus of what can become a valuable resource to chronicle the past of Alexandria.

“For more than 40 years, Partners has been the leading force in defining what ‘liveability’ means in communities throughout the U.S., so we are truly honored to receive this recognition for our archaeological work at Robinson Landing,” said Evan Goldman, EYA Senior VP of Land Acquisition and Development.  “In keeping with Partners’ goals, this project demonstrates how history, arts and culture converge to preserve our past while building a new future that promotes urban living and community development.”

When completed, Robinson Landing, located between Duke and Wolfe streets in Old Town, will feature 70 condominiums, 26 townhomes, retail and an indoor/outdoor restaurant along with a new waterfront promenade and revitalized pier.