March 6, 2020
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Unveils Design for Hurricane Maria Memorial Honoring the Puerto Rican Community

Governor Cuomo Unveils Design for Hurricane Maria Memorial Honoring the Puerto Rican Community

Puerto Rico-based Cardona and Martorell Named as Architect-Artist Team for Monument to Stand in Battery Park City

New Design is the Culmination of Assessment and Review Process by Hurricane Maria Memorial Commission

View Design Here

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today unveiled the design for New York's Hurricane Maria Memorial, honoring the victims of Hurricane Maria and standing as an international symbol of the resilience of the Puerto Rican community. The design by Puerto Rico-based architect Segundo Cardona and artist Antonio Martorell was recommended to the Governor by the Hurricane Maria Memorial Commission.

"With this memorial on the shore of the Hudson River, New York State will honor our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters who were tragically lost during the devastation from Hurricane Maria," Governor Cuomo said. "New York stands with Puerto Rico today, tomorrow and always - and we are proud to celebrate and further strengthen the connection between the Empire State and Puerto Rico."

On the first anniversary of Hurricane Maria, which struck Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, Governor Cuomo established the Hurricane Maria Memorial Commission to solicit designs for a memorial honoring the victims and to stand as an international symbol of the resilience of the Puerto Rican community. The Commission was tasked to search for and provide recommendations to the Governor pertaining to the site, design, and installation of the Memorial.

The Commission received 120 submissions for designs of the memorial in Battery Park City pursuant to its search for architects issued in August 2019. After a thorough review process, the Commission recommended to the Governor that Puerto Rico-based architect Segundo Cardona and artist Antonio Martorell design and build the memorial. The total cost of the memorial is approximately $700,000 and it will be completed and open by the first quarter of 2021.

The selected design is an ascending glass spiral, evocative of a hurricane as well as a shell, which is a symbol of protection for living organisms against a hostile environment such as extreme weather. The spiral is topped off by the upward rotating star of the Puerto Rican flag. The glass panels, painted by Matrorell, include the poem "Farewell from Welfare Island" by one of Puerto Rico's most beloved poets, Julia de Burgos. The poem, telling of the resiliency of the Puerto Rican people, was written by de Burgos when she was living in New York City and is the only work she ever wrote in English. Together, the piece grows from the site in Battery Park City, organically merging art, architecture and literature.

Segundo Cardona, FAIA, is a Puerto Rican architect and developer, whose prior work focuses on bringing the urban landscape, nature, architecture and art together to create accessible and impacting spaces.

Antonio Martorell, born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, keeps his workshop in La Playa de Ponce and has been artist-in-residence for more than 30 years at the University of Puerto Rico in Cayey. His work has been exhibited around the world. He is a member of the Academia Puertorriqueña de la Lengua Española.

Segundo Cardona and Antonio Martorell said, "We witnessed firsthand the terrible experience of Hurricane Maria and its aftermath. It was an honor to collaborate on the creation of our proposal for the memorial. Our idea was that the memorial needed to be visually strong, accessible and sensitive to the site. We felt committed to work hard to bring together architecture, art and literature into one single powerful message that we hope will engage and invoke reflection on the fate of the many victims."

The Hurricane Maria Memorial Commission is overseen and coordinated by Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Congressman Jose E. Serrano, Assembly Member Marcos Crespo, Assembly Member Maritza Davila and New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado.

Congressman Jose E. Serrano said, "New York is strongest when we are lifting one another up. When our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters were in need after Hurricane Maria, New York stood with them. The Hurricane Maria memorial serves as a powerful reminder that Puerto Rico is part of the New York family and always will be. I'm thrilled to see it come to life based on the work of some of Puerto Rico's most talented contemporary artists. I thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership throughout the recovery process and in leading the way on providing this memorial in New York."

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez said, "Puerto Rico is a treasured part of the New York family. This memorial serves as place to reflect on the memory of those lost in Hurricane Maria but also as a reminder that we must always stand together with our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters. I thank these two wonderful artists for their incredible vision and Governor Cuomo for making it possible."

Assembly Member Marcos Crespo said, "The bond between New York State and Puerto Rico is unbreakable and I am proud to see a memorial dedicated to the memory of those lost in Hurricane Maria stand in our state. I thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership and ensuring that our partnership with Puerto Rico is founded on a strong sense of community and public service."

Assembly Member Maritza Davila said, "In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria's devastation, New York was one of the first to answer the call. Throughout their recovery, New York State has and will continue to stand with our Puerto Rican family. This memorial serves as a reminder of our partnership and community and honors the memory of those who were lost. I thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership and vision on this project."

New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosadao said, "We are proud to unveil the memorial that will commemorate the losses and celebrate the spirit of our Puerto Rican families and friends as they continue to rebound after Hurricane Maria. Once again, Governor Cuomo has come through to offer a great display of public art that will be a reminder of the Puerto Rican resilience and the close ties between New York and Puerto Rican communities."

Members of the Commission include:

Tonio Burgos, CEO, Tonio Burgos & Associates

Edwin Melendez, Director, Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College

Dennis Rivera, Former President, 1199/SEIU

Casimiro D. Rodriguez, Sr. President, Hispanic Heritage Council of Western NY

Havidan Rodriguez, President, University at Albany

Santos Rodriguez, Director of Community Affairs & Strategic Initiatives, Building Construction Trades Council of Greater New York

Hilda Rosario Escher, Former President & CEO, Ibero American Action League

Teresa A. Santiago, Chairperson, Comite Noviembre

Brenda Torres, Executive Director, Corporation for the Conservation of the San Juan Bay Estuary

Elizabeth Velez, President, The Velez Organization, Resident of Battery Park City

The Hurricane Maria Memorial is part of Governor Cuomo's comprehensive response to a series of natural disasters in Puerto Rico. Under the Governor's leadership, New York State has dedicated approximately $13 million to support the more than 11,000 displaced Hurricane Maria victims living in New York. Part of this funding was directed to organizations who connect vulnerable Puerto Ricans to needed services such as employment, housing, benefits counseling and health care. Governor Cuomo has also committed up to $11 million dollars in housing and workforce funding for displaced Puerto Ricans: a $1 million program to provide robust case management services to displaced Puerto Ricans, and up to $10 million in job training and placement. The Governor also deployed 1,150 SUNY and CUNY volunteers to Puerto Rico in 2018 and 2019, who logged 67,000 hours restoring and rebuilding 246 homes.

Since a series of devastating earthquakes began in early 2020, New York has stood shoulder to shoulder with Puerto Rico and has worked to support the Island's recovery any way it can. On January 14 and 15, Governor Cuomo led a delegation to Puerto Rico to survey damage and promote solidarity, and as a result of initial damage assessments, the Governor deployed engineers and utility experts from the New York Power Authority to address power outages caused by the earthquakes and work to stabilize the island's power system to help mitigate the repeated power outages. During this trip, the State provided hundreds of blankets, pillows and emergency kits to those affected. On February 2, Governor Cuomo deployed 26 bilingual mental health professionals and 25 state building inspectors to Puerto Rico to assist in the recovery efforts as the island continues to recoup from a string of devastating earthquakes, and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul led a delegation to the Island to tour earthquake affected areas.

In February, the Governor announced that the New York State Department of Financial Services alerted New York chartered banks that they may receive Community Reinvestment Act consideration for engaging in community development activities that are aimed at revitalizing communities in Puerto Rico hit hardest by the recent natural disasters. DFS issued guidance urging New York financial institutions to provide assistance to consumers and businesses who continue to be affected by the aftermath of the earthquakes, including waiving ATM and late fees, increasing ATM withdrawal limits and helping those struggling to make loan payments. DFS also issued guidance urging all New York insurers that cover people, homes and businesses in Puerto Rico to undertake fair and speedy resolution of claims resulting from the earthquakes.

Prior to the earthquakes, Governor Cuomo continuously directed critical resources to communities in need following Hurricane Maria's landfall in September 2017. In the immediate aftermath, New York established the Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort, ultimately distributing at least 4,400 pallets of supplies collected from 13 donation sites across the state. New York State also deployed more than 1,000 personnel, including hundreds of utility workers and power experts, to help with power restoration and grid stabilization.

For more information about the recovery and relief efforts underway in Puerto Rico please visit the Governor's Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands webpage.

Contact the Governor's Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474 - 8418
New York City: (212) 681 - 4640


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