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A Singing, Swaying Urban Garden That Memorializes the Holocaust

SAYA's poetic proposal for a beachside memorial to the Holocaust takes second place in an international design competition.

A Singing, Swaying Urban Garden That Memorializes the Holocaust

So Atlantic City is building a new Holocaust memorial, which is great news for those of us who'd rather look at pretty architecture than feed coins to Elvis Multi-Strike and eat buffet steak ?til we puke.

Unfortunately, AC isn't building the memorial you see here. But we want to tell you about it anyway for the simple reason that it's lovely.

The conceptual scheme, by Jerusalem-based architects SAYA, is called Fields of Memory, and it placed second in a recent international design competition to erect a Holocaust memorial on AC's famed boardwalk. (First prize went to a pair of Columbia U students for a pretty cool design, even if it looks a bit like it got blasted by a tidal wave.)

Fields of Memory would be an urban garden that sings. It'd dance, too. As the architects tell it, vast bunches of rust-like "light stalks" — some tall, some short, and many in between — would sway in the breeze, their lights flickering, their stalks producing sounds like the soft whistle of a flute. The pictures do a good job of conveying the concept, but to really grasp it, you've gotta watch the film above. It's hypnotic.

The idea of the memorial is both to emulate the neighboring sea grass and to reference the biblical story of Shibboleth (shibbolim means "rye stalks" in Hebrew), a parable about ethnic and cultural hatred. Per the architects: The stalks? "collective presence, motion and sound create the effect of an absent-present crowd which has gathered to testify and tell a tragic story." Awfully poetic, eh? What a shame it won't be built. Maybe it was just too classy for AC.

[Images courtesy of SAYA]