Architecture & Urban Design
On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico’s southeastern coast. The category five hurricane decimated the island’s people, wildlife and infrastructure. Though the initial death toll numbers were controversially low, current estimates indicate that approximately 4,645 perished during the event and its aftermath; making Hurricane Maria the deadliest natural disaster in recent US history [Harvard University]. In addition to the unfortunate casualties, the island’s landscape also took a major hit as the lush green that coated its surface, turned into dark brown hues. Out of the many species impacted by Hurricane Maria, mangroves have been able to make a particularly speedy recovery due to their unique biological characteristics.
We have chosen the black mangrove (avicennia germinans) as a conceptual and symbolic metaphor throughout our design for Manglar, our team’s proposal for the Hurricane Maria Memorial competition. Manglar is composed of a topography that drapes over the Battery City Park Esplanade to create spaces of congregation, reflection, and remembrance. The topography is clad in 4,645 leaf-patterned pavers that correspond to the number of those who lost their lives during Hurricane Maria and its aftermath.
The symbology of fallen leaves comes to a crescendo as they collect around New York native shining sumac trees proudly puncturing through the terrain as a symbol of perseverance.
At night, the unique leave-paver design’s aggregate glows in the dark through the special use of a chemical compound that uses solar energy to charge the aggregate during the day and release it in darkness. These glowing crystals will provide discreet nighttime lighting in addition to echoing the salt secretion of the avicennia. This compound as well as the overall composition of the terrain is designed to be weather resistant and can be flooded. Ultimately, Manglar seeks to highlight the tenacity of the Puerto Rican spirit while underscoring the kinship between Puerto Rico and New York - particularly as both places have strong cultural ties and will continue to grapple with damaging storm events and uncertain coastal futures.
Proposal Team: Millan Bravo, Ariel Millan, WXY architecture + design, Claire Weisz