Staten Island 9-11 Memorial - 91

Staten Island 9-11 Memorial

Location: Staten Island, NY
Date: 2003 - 2003
Size: NA
Scope: Memorial and park dedicated to the victims of 9-11
Client: The Borough of Staten Island

As the visitor nears the proposed design they see a lighthouse ahead towering above the esplanade along the rocky shore of St. George. Behind, the ferry's horn signals its departure across the harbor. The esplanade divides, and the visitor takes the more shore-lined path, and wanders up and into the lighthouse portal. The two walls of its doorless passageway extend out beyond the lighthouse like reaching arms, enclosing between their space a contemplation area with benches formed of sea-hewn rock. People are sitting on the benches, and gazing at the splayed walls - some with searching eyes, some in meditation, some in reverie. Where the visitor yet stands - in the passageway - a small stream flows down the right wall (sea wall), and collects in a trough that runs along the base of the wall through the contemplation area.

Its murmur is echoed in the passageway, and resonated outward by the splayed walls. It, and a periodic sounding of a buoy bell overhead, color the meditation and reverie of the lost lives, and hallow the silence. The visitor joins those in the contemplation area, taking a seat on a bench. They scan the names and faces inscribed on the sea wall, and in introspection, gaze out through an aperture in the wall, onto the surface of a reflecting pool. The pool's hidden edge allows it the illusion that the harbor's water extends to the wall. The visitor's eye drifts across this water to a Manhattan skyline inviting remembrance of the site where the inscribed names gave their lives. And drifts across to the harbor's Statue, its raised torch sending back its gift of hope. The opposing wall (land wall) retains a berm - a rising knoll that our visitor ascends on its integral ramp into an observatory which comprises the lighthouse's second level.

Another sounding is heard, and, looking up through the undergirding of the lighthouse tower overhead, the visitor sees the buoy bell. The eye runs past it clear to the dimness at the top, where sunlight is streaming through perforations, its shafts profusing the dimness with inspirational light. From this perch the visitor can see the panorama of the harbor - from the Kill Van Kull to the Narrows, a coastline that winds around this sea and its endless story. Its sweep and aesthetics imbue the names on the walls with breath, giving them the eternal voice written in stone on the observatory rail: As long as there is the sea, this land, this air, we fallen live in all who behold. The visitor awaits the darkness with others laying about on the berm grass. At twilight the lighthouse lamps light, and as night takes hold, showers into the dark - near and far - the lighthouse's radiance of hope.

It draws the visitor back into the lighthouse passageway, beside the murmuring stream, now suffused with light. The contemplation area, under night's roof, has a different character. The visitor enters into its hush and scans the names on the wall, the illuminated water’s light throwing a play of shadows over them. The water murmurs and the bell sounds - and the walls whisper the names. Through the aperture a ferry can be seen gliding toward the terminal just beyond, lit like a lantern and in full reflection on the water, carrying its passengers home.