In collaboration with Thomas DeMonchaux
Intention A meaningful memorial is not merely a monumental object. Instead, a memorial is an immersive experience that builds a memory through movement of the body, mind, and spirit. It is not about the observation of some spectacular structure, but the participation of each visitor and the collaboration between movement, moment, and memory. A memorial is a journey, a calling, an ascent, an aliyah.
A memorial on the boardwalk at Atlantic City must take visitors far from the banality of the everyday streetscape and move them to the sublimity of the natural seascape, while retaining a secure connection with the life of the city. It must acknowledge and respect the iconic power and beauty of the boardwalk itself. The memorial, made completely of wood, would serve as an extension of the boardwalk; a bridge between city and sea.
A gentle ramp draws visitors back and forth through a forest of vertical wooden boards, shimmering in motion between transparency and opacity; exposure and enclosure. Visitors reach a sheltered clearing overlooking the sea, providing space for contemplation and reflection. The memorial provides an experience of loss and discovery; ascent and return.
Realization A six-foot wide switch-back ramp takes visitors along some 300’ of walking meditation, up to a raised area 7’-6” above boardwalk level. From within, while ascending, the structure is viewed obliquely and the grove of wood boards produce a feeling of shelter, screening out the visual noise of the city. When viewed directly from the boardwalk and surroundings, the memorial is open, airy, and visually connected to the life of the city. A supplementary stair with discrete doors to the boardwalk level provides additional egress.
Sustainable Ipe wood boards—some steel-reinforced and incorporating channels for lighting—are arrayed on 18” centers to produce six layers of screens. Identical vertical boards, closely spaced or laminated, become balustrades and benches, as well as a forming a canopy overhead. This overhead canopy visually continues the movement and geometry of the ramp up toward the sky. The suspended canopy structure is protected with a self-healing ash finish, a traditional woodworking preservation technique. The wood, rough and smooth to the touch, sustains the moment that each visitor spends between city and sea, land and sky.