7. September 2017
This September, as the nation remembers the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the city of Hoboken, New Jersey will unveil a memorial to commemorate residents whose lives were lost during those tragic events.
Hoboken was hit hard by the events of 9/11. The town sits just across the Hudson River from New York City, with commanding views of the lower Manhattan skyline. On the day of the attack, with bridges closed and mass transit crippled, tens of thousands of people fled Manhattan via ferry or boat. Some of those evacuees landed on Hoboken’s shoreline, looking for help and loved ones, joined with other onlookers doing the same.
In all, 56 Hoboken residents lost their lives in the attacks, making the city home to the highest rate of fatalities of any zip code.
City officials chose Pier A Park for a memorial to those victims, a waterfront park with views of Manhattan where stunned residents gathered on 9/11 to watch with bewilderment as the attacks unfolded.
Demetri Sarantitis was one of them. A Hoboken resident and architect, he completed the final design for a memorial that is located at the very spot where he watched the twin towers fall.
While the City edges closer to the public opening for the memorial, the design itself went through several iterations and designers. Yet, glass was always the medium through which artists were tasked to commemorate the attacks and the original plans called for a glass that was very clear, and fairly thick.
SCHOTT BOROFLOAT glass had the clarity that was needed. Unlike other thick glass panels that typically take on a greenish tint due to iron impurities in the raw materials, BOROFLOAT glass – made by floating molten glass on a bed of molten tin – is composed of very pure materials to reduce any chance that impurities will be introduced. Its use in a variety of optical applications furthers the importance of reducing imperfections as even slight defects aren’t tolerated.
“It’s an amazing glass. It’s so clear and magnificently transparent,” Sarantitis said.
Sarantitis’ design consisted of fifty-six triple laminated glass panels, aligned parallel to each other along a walkway, the name of a single victim inscribed on the edge of the center of the three laminated panels. Sarantitis also worked with engineers to design special battered stainless steel bracket assemblies that allowed the panels to be mounted with the edges and corners exposed. Those assemblies also hide custom-made light fixtures that shine through the glass from below, giving the monument a soft, ethereal glow.
Image: Demetri Sarantitis Architects
It’s a memorial built to withstand the test of time. Like glass, it is timeless and unaging, a fitting memorial for a place from which so many responded to tragedy by coming together as one to bear witness.