Volume 16 • Issue 15 | September 9 - 15, 2003

Downtowners design Suffolk’s 9/11 memorial

By Lincoln Anderson

A schematic of the memorial, showing glass panels ringing inaccessible garden.

Choosing from hundreds of concepts submitted, Suffolk County recently selected for its 9/11 memorial “Gardens of Remembrance,” a design by Barry David Berger of Barry David Berger+Associates, an industrial design firm located on King St. in Greenwich Village, and Barry Silberstang and Nicholas Agneta of Silberstang Architects, NYC, from Chelsea.

“Gardens of Remembrance” is a permanent memorial to honor the memories of the 136 Suffolk County residents lost as a result of the trade center attacks.

The World Trade Center memorial to all 3,016 victims of the Sept. 11 attack and the six who were killed at the W.T.C. in 1993 will be decided later this year by a 13-member jury.

The Suffolk design is composed of three elements: A central inaccessible garden planted with local foliage, intended to grow naturally without intervention; surrounded by a manicured accessible garden incorporating the rest of the one-acre site, in Armed Forces Park, Hauppauge, N.Y. The boundary between the two gardens is a wall composed of 136 individual, clear glass panels. At eye level, each panel is etched with the name of the one of the victims, along with date of birth, occupation and local town of residence. A portrait of the victim is etched above eye level in such a way that each can only be seen from a bench underneath that individual panel. Looking up, the face of each individual will be seen against the backdrop of the sky.

Berger, an industrial designer who lives on King St. and also has a residence in East Hampton, said the memorial will allow victims’ friends and family to mourn semi-privately without a separate time having to be set aside to do this, as is done at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.

“The key towards a successful memorial design is you need to direct the design towards the loved ones,” he said. “The loved ones can visit the memorial and have an intimate, private experience even when lots of other people are attending.”

The panels will be organized random, with the names run through a computer program. Each panel will have an image, birth date, town of residence and other information that family members may want to include, such as “father,” “mother” or whether they were a member of a uniformed service and why they were at the World Trade Center.

The idea of the inner garden being allowed to grow like a primal forest has a symbolism.

“These people didn’t grow old,” said Berger. “You’ll be able to see this in 10 years, 30 years, and you’ll see growth symbolizing the things that didn’t happen, the lives that weren’t led. A hundred years from now you’ll see a tree 100 ft. tall. It’s a powerful representation of what was lost.”

Berger, who has lived on King St. since 1986, is a graduate of Pratt. Silberstang and Agneta are graduates of Cooper Union. The three work as a team on projects.

They won’t enter the W.T.C. memorial competition, feeling that as a small group they don’t have the resources and that it would overwhelm them to the point where they couldn’t do any other business.

“We didn’t feel we could swim in that sea,” said Berger, “and so much emotion and so many viewpoints and such divisiveness. With two of us having connections to Suffolk County, this seemed like the appropriate thing to do.”



Downtown Express is published by
Community Media LLC.

Downtown Express | 487 Greenwich St., Suite 6A | New York, NY 10013

Phone: 212.242.6162 | Fax: 212.229.2970
Email: news@downtownexpress.com

Written permission of the publisher must be obtainedbefore any of the contents of this newspaper, in whole or in part, can be reproduced or redistributed.