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Volume 73, Number 19 | September 10 - 16, 2003

Local residents design Suffolk County 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 collaborative design by Barry David Berger of Barry David Berger+Associates, an industrial design firm on King St. in Greenwich Village, and Barry Silberstang and Nicholas Agneta of Silberstang Architects, NYC, of W. 26th St. in Chelsea.

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

The 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.; and the boundary between the two gardens, a wall composed of 136 individual, clear glass panels.

At eye level, each panel is etched with the name of one of the victims, along with date of birth, occupation and local town. 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 without a separate time being 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 randomly, with the names run through a computer program. Each panel can have 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 in the Village since 1986, is a graduate of Pratt. Silberstang and Agneta are graduates of Cooper Union. The three work as a team on projects. Agneta also has a home in Suffolk.

They won’t enter the W.T.C. memorial competition, feeling that as a small group they don’t have the resources.

“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.”


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