To the Victims of Hurricane Maria
As we walk along the waterfront we can see the memorial growing outwards as if it sprouted from beneath the city. From a distance, the memorial appears like a tree whose surfaces and branches have been aged by the waterfront with the passage of time. However, as we approach closer, we realize that the weathered patina is actually a canvas of names that are embedded in between a continuous flow of lines. These lines appear to gradually fade as they flow upwards to the top of the tree. Before turning around, we catch a reflection of ourselves in the surface which reminds us of the humanity and resiliency of community in times of tragedy.
The LuxMea team envision a memorial on the Esplanade site at Battery Park as an abstracted kapok tree which pays tribute to the victims of Hurricane Maria and acts as a symbol for the resiliency of the Puerto Rican community. Foreseen, is that this gesture can act as a catalyzed entity, drawing New Yorkers and others together through social cohesion and community resilience. Our proposed design forms a three-dimensional structure that is self supporting and encompasses a six meter depth, width, and height. It responds through form, materiality, and its relation to the waterfront site by acting as a beacon which contrasts sharply to the mass of the buildings surrounding Battery Park. In plan the memorial is oriented at the corner of the Esplanade, while in elevation the density of branches align towards the Statue of Liberty.
We see our contribution to Manhattan as an incarnation, as opposed to something built, as with other sculptures in the past. And as a memorial, it is designed to engage the Puerto Rican American community as well as all guardians of the Upper and Lower Bays in the Manhattan Harbour. We believe that the design can be used as a way to unify these individuals as a whole under its branches and along its roots. It reaches out to embrace all those who approach it, and offers protection under its canopy for those to gather and reflect in both personal and public ways as they read the names of those lost. Although the organization of names is designed to ensure that all can be fully seen by following a specific visibility logic in mind, the design also inherently encourages people to participate in fully exploring the monument by reading its surfaces as a continuous and winding story - starting at the base and flowing upwards until the flowing names and lines eventually disappear into the polished steel surface.
In respect for the victims and all those who have been affected and their communities, we intend for the memorial design to fully recognize the broadest accumulation of lives lost both directly and indirectly with the progression of time. This manifests as a pattern of names and lines which are embedded within the memorials surfaces - with the lines being representative of a responsive and growing community. Although the memorial is designed to ensure that all can be fully seen by following a specific visibility logic, the design also encourages people to participate in exploring the monument by reading its surfaces as an interconnected story which chronologically flows upwards until the lines fade into the polished steel branches at the top.
In contrast to the predominantly commercial atmosphere of the esplanade, we ultimately aim for a transcendental gesture. LuxMea Studio believes that our proposal to the victims of Hurricane Maria in Manhattan would ultimately offer a place to mourn for the great loss of life but also symbolize a synergized relationship between people of all races, as well as all of humankind and Mother Earth. In the process, we do not see ourselves as exclusive authors, as with much Western traditional art, but as “midwives” serving a unique place together with other stewards of our land and waters for everyone to enjoy.