Hurricane Maria Memorial Competition

TOP Hurricane Maria Memorial Competition
About the Memorial

In the wake of tragedy and devastation and marking the first anniversary of Hurricane Maria, which struck Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, Governor Cuomo established a commission to create a memorial honoring the victims of Hurricane Maria and to stand as an international symbol of the resilience of the Puerto Rican community (the “Memorial”).

The Governor, under Executive Order No. 189, established the Hurricane Maria Memorial Commission (the “Commission”). As New Yorkers and Americans continue to mourn the lives lost, the Commission has been tasked to search for and provide recommendations pertaining to the site, design and installation to the Governor of the Memorial. 

The Commission has identified The Esplanade and the Chambers Street Overlook in Battery Park City in New York City as potential sites for the Memorial. Artists should consider these locations in their designs for the Memorial.

Artists, architects, landscape architects and designers may apply as individuals or as part of a team. Applicants based outside of New York City may apply. The selected applicant’s presence will be required in New York City for site visits, approval meetings, installation and maintenance.

Commission Members

The Commission is comprised of ten members appointed by the Governor, and is overseen and coordinated by Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, Congressman José E. Serrano, Assembly Member Marcos Crespo, Assembly Member Maritza Davila, and New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. Members of the Commission include:

  • Tonio Burgos, CEO, Tonio Burgos & Associates
  • Edwin Meléndez, 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, Comité 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 selected artist and/or architect will be required to work with the Battery Park City Authority’s designated project management team.

Competition Timeline
Competition Timeline

August 6, 2019: Call for Artists, Architects and Designers Announcement

August 6 - October 28, 2019: Online Competition Submission Period

August 6 – October 7, 2019: Submit Questions to Hurricane Maria Memorial Commission at [email protected]

By October 11, 2019: Publish Responses to Substantive Questions on Website 

Hurricane Maria Memorial Sites
Hurricane Maria Memorial Sites

The Commission has identified The Esplanade and the Chambers Street Overlook in Battery Park City in New York City as potential sites for the Memorial. Artists should consider these locations in their designs for the Memorial. Applicants may submit one design for one or both sites or have the option of developing two distinct concepts for each site however only one design will be selected.

The Esplanade

The Esplanade, Battery Park City

  • Esplanade Plaza is to the SW corner of the North Cover Marina in an open plaza on the waterfront esplanade.   It affords excellent views of the Hudson River and to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. 
  • The plaza gets high volumes of foot traffic and is often host to a range of seasonal events held by the Battery Park City Authority given the open space availability.  There is a permanent volleyball court located within its center. 
  • The plaza is located on a relieving platform (piles over the water) with a weight restriction of 700 lbs/sf.  The relieving platform is comprised of two slabs separated by fill.  It is not possible to bolt to or cut holes into the lower of the slabs.  The site is subject to flooding in heavy storm events.


Chambers Street Overlook

Chambers Street Overlook, Battery Park City

  • The Chambers Street Overlook is located at the junction of Chambers Street and River Terrace at the northern end of Battery Park City.  It affords a stunning elevated vista overlooking the Hudson River, Rockefeller Park, and Midtown Manhattan.  Eastbound views along Chambers Street extend to the downtown civic center and associated municipal buildings. 
  • The overlook marks a primary entrance to North Battery Park City and, specifically, Rockefeller Park which is one of the highest traffic destinations within Battery Park City.  It is also at the highest elevation point within Battery Park City and is on solid ground. 
  • While the circular plaza at the outlook is the preferred location for the art piece at this site, the area with planters in the grand staircase leading up to the overlook may also be considered.   These lower areas may be subject to flooding in extreme storm events and may incur more costly foundation.

Please click on the buttons below to view the Hurricane Maria memorial site location and plan for The Esplanade and Chambers Street Overlook.

The Esplanade  Chambers Street Overlook

Submission Requirements
Submission Requirements

To participate in the competition you must submit the requested images and information set forth below of your proposal for the Hurricane Maria Memorial. The selected applicant will then have the opportunity further refine their designs as needed.

1. Contact Information (1 page maximum):

Please provide up-to-date contact information for all team members including:

  • Full Name (First and Last)
  • Phone Number
  • Mailing Address (address, apartment, city, state, country, zip code)
  • Email Address
  • For team submissions indicate a lead point of contact

2. Statement of Qualifications (2 pages maximum):

Applications are open to artists and architects 18 years of age and older. 

Artists, architects, landscape architects and designers may apply as individuals or as part of a team. Applicants based outside of New York City may apply, and will be required to be present in New York City for site visits, approval meetings, installation and maintenance. Teams must designate one individual as the lead contact. The applicant / lead artist must have demonstrated professional public art experience (not student work) and must have examples of previous experience with large-scale outdoor original sculpture or sculptural installation projects with budgets over $100,000 each. Examples of work must be documented original artwork. 

Applicants must provide a bio/CV demonstrating an evidence of previous work, exhibition history, awards, honors and demonstrated proficiency and technical knowledge in the medium(s) for which they are proposing, budgeting and installation.

The statement of qualifications should also address the following:

  • Demonstrated capacity and availability to undertake the project.
  • Ability to attend one or more community meetings to discuss the project.
  • Confirmation of availability to work in New York during the design and construction period (2019-2020).

3. Statement of Intent (1 page maximum): 

The artist and/or architect must provide a summary statement of their artistic intent, addressing the following:

  • Convey artistic innovation and excellence, and be non-commercial in nature.
  • Be a creative and original tribute the victims of Hurricane Maria and the resiliency of the Puerto Rican community.
  • Create a sense of community. Pieces that welcome interaction with the public are encouraged.
  • Convey the special connection between New Yorkers and Puerto Ricans.
  • Compliment the selected site.

4. Presentation of Concept (3 pages maximum):

The artist and/or architect must provide the following in scaled drawings and/or images that convey the proposal in the context of one of the selected sites for the Memorial:

  • Site Plan
  • Elevations

Proposals should address the following:

  • Representation of the Statement of Intent.
  • Overall Impact of Proposed Art: The proposed Memorial should resonate with the site and evoke a powerful “Sense of Place” which honors the victims of Hurricane Maria and the Puerto Rican community.
  • Site Compatibility: The proposed Memorial should be compatible with the existing site conditions and location. The artist should consider the scale of the proposed work in the context of the site’s topography, and solar orientation. The proposal and should be feasible within the existing conditions, and not present a safety hazard or other problems.

5. Material Selection and Estimated Project Cost (1 page maximum):

The budget for design and fabrication of the Memorial artwork is approximately $700,000, which includes an artist fee of up to, but not greater than, 20% of the final art project cost. The total project cost must include delivery to the site and installation.

As part of this fee, the selected artist and/or architect will be required to submit a budget, produce completed designs, select a fabricator and oversee the fabrication and installation of the artwork, and any necessary landscape restoration or other treatments required at the site, by September 20, 2020. The selected artist and/or architect will be required to work with the Battery Park City Authority’s designated project management team. The staff of the site will be available to provide their technical expertise and site-specific knowledge in support of the implementation of this project, but to the extent subsurface investigations, wind load tests, utility coordination, engineering or other technical work is needed beyond site's in-house expertise, such costs should be encompassed within the design/construction budget.

Consider all potential costs in the draft estimate of probable cost, including:

  • Constructability: The artist should consider the issues of fabrication and installation of their proposed art piece.
  • Sustainability, Maintenance, and Operations: Artist consideration should be given to the long term maintenance of the proposed piece of art. The memorial should not present a safety hazard or other problems. It should not increase park operating or maintenance costs.

Design Restrictions

  • Due to maintenance and operations concerns, water features will not be considered
  • Due to the proximity of residential buildings, features that create noise will not be considered. Further, light emitting features must be designed to minimize light spillover from the site to neighboring properties and night sky.
  • The design must withstand an outdoor, unmonitored, high traffic and saline environment, and must require only minimal maintenance throughout its minimum 75-year lifespan. 
  • All proposed work must be designed to meet ADA accessibility, ASTM International/International Organization for Standardization, and meet structural code requirements. 
  • Weight restrictions and foundation limitations may apply.  (pending site selection – to be updated)

6. Submission Format:

Submissions are to be formatted to fit 8 ½ x 11 and in PDF format.  Materials will be printed for review on 8 ½ x 11 paper so they must be legible at that size.

Email submissions to [email protected] by Monday, October 28, 2019 at 11:59pm EDT.

Selection Criteria
Selection Criteria

A selection panel comprised of the Hurricane Maria Memorial Commission with advisory design professionals and location site staff will review and select finalists from the submitted artist proposals.

The selection panel will carefully review and select a short list of proposals based on the criteria below:

  • Interpretation/Clarity of Theme
  • Architect and/or Artist Qualifications
  • Creativity & Originality of Depicted Theme
  • Quality of Artistic Composition
  • Site Compatibility
  • Constructability
  • Sustainability/Maintenance & Operations
  • Budgetary Compliance
  • Overall Impression of Art
How To Submit
How To Submit

Ready to submit your application? Please email the below documents and any questions you may have to [email protected]. You must submit questions by Monday, October 7, 2019 at 11:59 PM.

  • Contact Information (1 page maximum)
  • Statement of Architect and/or Artist Qualifications (2 pages maximum)
  • Statement of Architect and/or Artist Intent (1 page maximum)
  • Memorial Design (3 pages maximum)
  • Material Selection and Estimated Project Costs (1 page maximum)

Maximum file size: 10MB 
Maximum pages: 8

Applications for the Hurricane Maria Memorial Competition must be submitted by Monday, October 28, 2019 before 11:59 pm EST. Any application that does not comply with the guidelines, file size restrictions, and maximum number of pages will not be considered.



You may also sign up for updates from the Hurricane Maria Memorial Commission.


The following questions were frequently submitted by people interested in entering the competition. 

Q: Is there any page size requirement for the design submission? 
A: Please format your pages to 8 ½ x 11. 

Q: What is the maximum height allowed for the memorial? 
A: There is no height limitation, however all proposals must consider budget, constructability, foundation requirements to satisfy wind load and other applicable code requirements, and maintenance considerations.  

Q: With regard to the Statement of Artist Qualifications, can we include images of past work to demonstrate ability and experience instead of just a written statement?
A:Beyond the specific information requested, Name, Address, etc., you are free to sum-up your education and work experience in text and images as you see fit. However, the limit remains (2) pages. 

Q: Should the statement and other text documents be saved as a Word document file or as a PDF? 
A: Text documents should be saved in PDF format.

Q: Should image files be saved as JPEG or PDF? 
Either JPEG or PDF files are acceptable. Keep in mind that materials will be printed for review on 8 ½ x 11 paper so they must be legible at that size.

Q: With regard to, "Any new seating, paths and landscape the Artist proposes in conjunction with the memorial are to be considered a part of the memorial and therefore included in the project budget", is an extensive new landscape design required in all proposals, or is the need and scope of landscape design up to the discretion of the artist?  
A: Extensive landscaping is not required, but thought should be given to how the memorial will interact with its setting, including existing paths, seating and plantings. All elements constructed in association with the memorial project including but not limited to the addition or alternation of landscape features are to be funded through the project budget.

Q: Can we have more existing photos of the site from different angles?   
A: Additional views can be obtained on Google Earth or from a site visit. 

Q: Is it is possible to propose more than one idea per applicant?  If that is allowed, should we submit through separate emails? 
A: We suggest that you focus on your strongest idea and advance that proposal forward. However, if you wish to make more than one submission, each should be a complete and separate submission. 

Q: I live outside of New York. Can I submit my proposal, or it is limited to NY residents only, or open to all States? 
A: As specified in the online “Statement of Artists Qualifications,“ the designer need not live in New York, however they must have the ability to attend one or more community meetings to discuss the project, and be available to work in New York during the design and construction of the memorial.

Q: Am I allowed to submit images of works relevant to my proposal as well as letters of recommendation as part of my qualifications?
A: Yes.

Q: If we are proposing a memorial that includes text, should we budget for Braille interpretation and/or an audio option? 
A: Incorporating Braille is up to the artist, however, an outdoor audio system that serves as an integral component of the art work is considered prohibitive with respect to maintenance, and should not be proposed. 

Q: What are the requirements for accessibility? 
A: If provided, access to the Memorial should comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Q: Can teams of artists submit a proposal for the commission, or is the opportunity restricted to individual artists?  Our company designs and builds exhibits for a variety of clients and we’re wondering if a company would be eligible to be considered an “artist” for this competition.  
A: There is no objection to a team making a proposal submission, in doing so however it should be made clear how the project team would manage any required agency review, design advancement and fabrication issues.  

Q: Do we have to submit a drawing of the proposed monument that shows where it will be installed on the site?  Can we submit a photo of a scale model placed in a model of the site?
A: You should submit images that clearly represent your memorial design. Images can be created from models, drawings or other documents that convey your proposal in the context of the site. However, materials will be printed for review on 8 ½ x 11 paper so they must be legible at that size.

Q: Is it possible to see photos of the proposed exact spots assigned for the memorial idea in the Esplanade and Chambers Street Overlook in Battery Park?
A. Please see links to Google Street Views:
Chambers St Overlook
Esplanade Plaza
A: There is no exact spot designated for the memorial as the use of the space is determined by the proposed design taking into consideration the fixed surrounding elements

Q: Is that a permanent service platform on the water? Should we assume it remains on the site or will it be relocated?
A: The service platform on the water at Esplanade Plaza is temporary and is no longer there.

Q: If I was a project architect/designer of a previous firms where I oversaw the construction of a large, outdoor sculpture/park would that count has qualified experience? Or would I have to have completed independently under my own name?
A: Your experience counts. Be sure to describe projects and your role in each project.

Q: With regard to requirement: “The applicant / lead artist must have demonstrated professional public art experience (not student work) and must have examples of previous experience with large-scale outdoor original sculpture or sculptural installation projects with budgets over $400,000 each. Examples of work must be documented original artwork.” Can the requirement be modified?
A:We have lowered the budget requirement to $100,000.  However we are keenly aware of the challenges that project budgets at that threshold pose to many proposers. We are most concerned that any idea proposed demonstrate the ability to realize a constructible final design. We strongly urge proposers to add a team member who can review and provide documentation of a design’s feasibility.

Q: Is it necessary to make an appointment for the site visit or each one separately does the site visit? 
A: No, an appointment to visit the site is not required. Each site has public access 24/7.

Q: Our potential team consists of two award-winning architects, one licensed in New York. We have also had artwork selected in juried shows from the Whitney. However, we have not had any public art built. Are we not qualified?
A: Yes you qualify assuming that your team architect members have had experience with finished projects. Please make sure your team designates who is the lead of the team members and that your proposed design is constructible within the proposed project budget.

Q: First, are there any recommended or preferred materials for the project (bronze, cement, fiberglass, mosaic),or any specific material requirements?
A: Any material selected should assure the best translation of the proposed design and fulfill the requirements for long-term stability and integrity with minimal maintenance requirements.Please refer to Note #5. Material Selection and Estimated Project Cost Under Submission Requirements on the competition website.

Q: Does the Commission request a Design/Build team. 
A: The procurement process will be design bid build. 

Q: Are AutoCad drawings available for both sites?
A: No CAD drawings are available. The plans submitted are to scale.

Q: Are there up-to-date or more recent plans for Site A, especially if the volleyball court, benches and docks are included?
A: No, they don't exist at this time.

Q: Please define clearly the limits of site A.
A: The sites are highlighted on the site package on the website.

Q: Can the volleyball court located at Site A be relocatd? Does it have to be accounted in the total budget?
A: No, the volleyball court cannot be relocated.

Q: Can the existing benches, lighting and trash receptacles and other urban furniture be removed or relocated?
A: Yes, within reason.

Q: Can the proposal be place on the Hudson River?
A: No, the proposal cannot be placed on the Hudson River.

Q: Can any of the existing elements on Site A and B (balustrade, lighting fixtures, bench location, stone veneer walls, etc.) be modified?
A: Yes, within reason.

Q: What is the current elevation (above water level) of both sites?
A: The current site elevation for both sites is shown on the drawings in the site package on the competition website.  

Q: Does the proposed solution need to be permanent installation? Can it be ephemeral and seasonal?
A: The proposed project must be a permanent installation and cannot be ephemeral or seasonal.

Q: Is the landscape orientation accepted for the submission pages?
A: The final submission pages can be oriented as a vertical or landscape, and must be printable.

Q: Is there a project limit size for either site, or a limitation on maximum project surface area?
A: The project size must take into consideration the function of the space and present no safety hazard. Please refer to Design Restrictions (5. under Submission Requirements).

Q: Can the statement of Artist Qualifications include projects similar to this memorial that were not constructed?
A: We can consider similar projects that were not constructed, however, they must demonstrate sensitivity and appropriateness to the mission of honoring the victims and survivors of Hurricane Maria.

Q: In the Statement of Qualifications, are only art installations and sculptures relevant examples for the selection panel, or are architectural projects (like plazas, waterfront interventions and mass transit projects) also accepted?
A: Architectural projects are also accepted examples of previous experience.

Q: Does the project site have a junction box available for hookup to the electrical power?
A: There is currently no power available at the site.

Q: Is it possible to submit only the complete construction drawings (A/E services) budgeted and construction schedule and select fabricator/installation in a later phase?
A: Yes, the construction schedule and fabrication/installation details can be submitted later.

Q: Is it possible to know the exact punctuation assigned for each of the base selection criteria used by the selection panel?
A: Each of the criteria components are equally weighted.

Q: Is it possible, if necessary, to bolt to or cut holes into the upper slab?
A: Yes, it is possible to bolt to or cut holes in the upper slab, but not the lower slab.