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PR- 428-05
November 16, 2005


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the selection of Freddy Rodriguez as the designer of the memorial that will honor the memory of the 265 lives lost in the Flight 587 tragedy of November 2001.  The selection process began with a Request for Proposals (RFP) in the spring that resulted in 68 design submissions, from which the six finalists were chosen.  The selection panel, comprised of representatives of the families of the victims, the community, arts professionals and City agencies, chose Freddy Rodriguez’s design.  The final memorial design will be developed in collaboration with the Department of Parks and Recreation and in consultation with the families and Belle Harbor community.  The memorial is expected to be completed by fall 2006.  Two images of the selected design accompany this press release. 

“This memorial selection process is an effort that has taken time, patience and care,” said Mayor Bloomberg.  “The process has brought us together to find the best way to honor and remember those we lost in a meaningful and enduring manner.  We look forward to working with the artist, city agencies, community and families to realize this important tribute.  I am grateful to all those who have participated in the selection of this artist and conceptual design, in particular the families and residents of the Belle Harbor community.”

“The commitment of the families, Belle Harbor and City agencies, and the vision of the designer, will transform an artistic concept into a lasting tribute,” said Commissioner Linares. “This reminder, this space of reflection and honor, will forever carve the names of those loved ones in our hearts and in the memory of our City.” 

“Art has and incredible power to heal. It is our hope that through this collaborative process, and by realizing the vision of an individual artist, we can create a dramatic memorial to those we lost as well as a beautiful public space of remembrance and reflection.” said Commissioner Levin.

“Our City’s parks and public spaces often serve as sites of community solidarity and reflection, particularly after tragedies of this magnitude,” said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Benepe. “This memorial—the result of extraordinary cooperation between numerous agencies, artists, and communities—will serve as a fitting tribute to the victims of the Flight 587 tragedy.”

The selection process involved receiving feedback from family members and the community of Belle Harbor through nine viewings of the design proposals, including one presentation in the Dominican Republic.  In addition to the viewings, overviews of the design proposals and a questionnaire were made available through mailings and online.

As with other memorial projects, panelists evaluated the design proposals based on the following criteria: artistic excellence and quality of the general conceptual design, including its appropriateness as a place of remembrance and the proposer’s capability to complete the project.  As the selected winner of the competition, the artist will now be invited to negotiate a contract with the City. The panel was comprised of representatives of the families of the victims, the community of Belle Harbor, and City agencies, along with art professionals lead by public art consultant Jennifer McGregor.  The following persons served on the panel: Belkis Lora, a family member who lost he brother in the tragedy, Joanie Omeste of the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce, Professor Harriet Senie, art historian of City College of the City University of New York, Julián Zugazagoitia, Executive Director of El Museo del Barrio, Susan Chin, Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs, Amy Freitag, Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Parks & Recreation, Kerry Gould-Schmit, Deputy Policy Advisor of the Department of Transportation, and Nancy Rosen, ex-officio of the Art Commission.  The City’s selection process was spearheaded by Mayoral aide Nanette Smith.  In addition, the following commissioners have also participated in the selection process: Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin, Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Guillermo Linares, Department of Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall, Community Assistance Unit Commissioner Jonathan Greenspun and Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. 
The memorial will be located at the ocean end of Beach 116th Street, near the entrance to the beach. As part of this project, the existing cul de sac and the beach entrance are being reconfigured to suit the memorial and improve beach access. The Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Transportation will be responsible for the design and construction of the site, including plantings and the memorial's foundation. The approximate budget for the memorial is $2 million. The City is raising both public and private support for this project.

Flight 587 was headed to Santo Domingo when the crash occurred at 9:16 a.m. on November 12, 2001, shortly after it took off from JFK International Airport.  All passengers and crew perished along with five people on the ground. The event created a profound loss for families in the United States, the Dominican Republic, France, Haiti, Israel, Taiwan and the United Kingdom, and particularly for two New York City neighborhoods, Washington Heights and Belle Harbor.  The second deadliest aviation accident in American history brought together New York's Dominican community and the residents of Belle Harbor in the Rockaways. The memorial will be a place of remember how much those lost meant to the families, their communities and the City.

Freddy Rodriguez was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to New York City in 1963. He studied painting at the Art Students League and the New School for Social Research, and textile design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Mr. Rodriguez was named a "Gregory Millard Fellow in Painting" in 1991 by the New York Foundation for the Arts and was a New York State Council on the Arts Artist-in-Residence at El Museo del Barrio in 1992. He represented the United States at the IV Painting Biennial in Cuenca, Ecuador, and has lectured on art throughout Central and South America. Mr. Rodriguez completed a public commission through the City's Percent for Art program in 1995. His work will soon be featured in a one-person exhibition at the Newark Museum and at the Alexey von Schlippe Gallery of Art at the University of Connecticut.


Edward Skyler / Silvia Alvarez   (212) 788-2958

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