No one yet knows for sure what the proposed National Museum of the American People in Washington, D.C., will look like when the project comes to fruition, but one student’s vision helped her earn a master’s degree in architecture from Virginia Tech. 

For her thesis, Krystyn Haecker of Austin, Texas, completed a design for the museum at a prominent site near the National Mall in Washington, D.C. 

The museum would tell the immigration and migration story -- as well as highlight the accomplishments -- of all American ethnic groups from the prehistoric period to the present. A coalition of more than 150 diverse ethnic and minority organizations are asking the president and Congress to support creating a commission to study the establishment of the museum.

Haecker said she learned about plans for the National Museum of the American People when she was exploring ideas for her thesis. 

“I was looking for a disconnected part of the city for which I could find a unifying solution. Being able to connect with a real project offered a great opportunity,” she said. “I chose to design the proposed museum at what is called the Banneker Overlook site to show how a major cultural institution attracting large numbers of diverse people can also help unify a disparate segment of an urban community.” 

Her thesis is titled "E Pluribus Unum: A Study of Reconnecting a Broken Urban Fabric."

So far, the bipartisan leaders of 20 ethnic and minority congressional caucuses are cosponsoring the museum's resolution, H. Con. Res. 27. U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, lead sponsor of a bipartisan American People Museum resolution in the House, praised both Virginia Tech and Haecker for her work on the design.

About the museum, Moran said, “The museum will shine a light on our nation's diverse heritages and ethnicities, and the spirit enshrined in our original national motto, e pluribus unum (from many, one). America's rich tapestry of peoples from throughout the world is what distinguishes us as Americans. It also helps guarantee our future success as a nation. It is incumbent on all of us to learn about all of our heritages and to celebrate them." 

Coalition director Sam Eskenazi called the museum the nation's most important cultural institution not yet built, noting that "people from every ethnic, nationality and minority group will visit the museum to view their own story and will then learn about every other group's story." He said that the tale of people coming from every corner of the world, crossing oceans and continents to begin new lives,” is one of the most compelling stories in human history." 

Haecker said that her interactions with the museum coalition and design of the museum on the Washington, D.C., site fulfilled one of her goals in coming to Virginia Tech. 

“I was drawn to the program at the Virginia Tech Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center to learn in an urban environment. And I feel I was able to do that in a way that complimented my undergraduate work in a more rural setting,” Haecker said.

Haecker earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental design from Texas A&M University. After graduating from Virginia Tech in May, she returned to her home state and is now working at Mirador Group Architecture and Interiors in Houston.