Puerto Rico Memorial Competition
New York, USA
In 2017, the category five hurricane “Maria” swept across the island of Puerto Rico, devastating countless communities and claiming the lives of more than 3,000 Americans. Despite its enormous human costs, the tragedy remains but a footnote in American memory. And not only that, much like the history of Puerto Rico and its people, the story of Hurricane Maria is too often told as a one-sided tale of poverty and misfortune. We want to combat this one-dimensional representation of Maria’s victims, and of Puerto Rican culture more broadly, by recovering the island’s three-dimensionality. Our memorial, a detailed rendering of the island’s complex topography, celebrates the fascinating depth, diversity, and sheer multi-facetedness of Puerto Rico and its people—that is to say, its three-dimensionality. Our design proposal is one of ideas and ideals. We see this design competition as an opportunity to advocate for the beginning of a conversation about Puerto Rico’s bond with the City of New York. Stone is the primary material for the memorial based on it’s simplicity, durability, and timelessness. We propose a sunken public plaza that features at it’s center a topographic sculpture of Puerto Rico’s complex topography. The monolithic stone’s weight is calibrated to be exactly 3,057kg to commemorate the 3,057 lives lost during the disaster.