This week, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo unveiled the design for New York’s Hurricane Maria Memorial, honoring the victims of Hurricane Maria and standing as an international symbol of the resilience of the Puerto Rican community. The commissioned design is by Puerto Rico-based architect Segundo Cardona and artist Antonio Martorell, and is expected to be completed and on view in Battery Park City by the first quarter of 2021.
“With this memorial on the shore of the Hudson River, New York State will honor our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters who were tragically lost during the devastation from Hurricane Maria,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York stands with Puerto Rico today, tomorrow and always – and we are proud to celebrate and further strengthen the connection between the Empire State and Puerto Rico.”
The Commission received 120 submissions for designs of the memorial in Battery Park City pursuant to its search for architects issued in August 2019. After a thorough review process, the Commission recommended to the Governor that Puerto Rico-based architect Segundo Cardona and artist Antonio Martorell design and build the memorial. The total cost of the memorial is approximately $700,000.
The selected design is an ascending glass spiral, evocative of a hurricane as well as a shell, which is a symbol of protection for living organisms against a hostile environment such as extreme weather. The spiral is topped off by the upward rotating star of the Puerto Rican flag. The glass panels, painted by Matrorell, include the poem “Farewell from Welfare Island” by one of Puerto Rico’s most beloved poets, Julia de Burgos. The poem, telling of the resiliency of the Puerto Rican people, was written by de Burgos when she was living in New York City and is the only work she ever wrote in English. Together, the piece grows from the site in Battery Park City, organically merging art, architecture and literature.
Segundo Cardona, FAIA, is a Puerto Rican architect and developer, whose prior work focuses on bringing the urban landscape, nature, architecture and art together to create accessible and impacting spaces.
Antonio Martorell, born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, keeps his workshop in La Playa de Ponce and has been artist-in-residence for more than 30 years at the University of Puerto Rico in Cayey. His work has been exhibited around the world. He is a member of the Academia Puertorriqueña de la Lengua Española.
Segundo Cardona and Antonio Martorell said, “We witnessed firsthand the terrible experience of Hurricane Maria and its aftermath. It was an honor to collaborate on the creation of our proposal for the memorial. Our idea was that the memorial needed to be visually strong, accessible and sensitive to the site. We felt committed to work hard to bring together architecture, art and literature into one single powerful message that we hope will engage and invoke reflection on the fate of the many victims.”