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The FDNY Memorial Wall

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The FDNY Memorial Wall was presented to, and accepted by the Fire Department of New York City (FDNY) as a gift from the law firm of Holland + Knight and its Charitable Foundation under the direction of Brian Starer. It serves as a lasting tribute to the sacrifices of the 343 active Department personnel who lost their lives in this tragedy, and to all firefighters who serve worldwide. Designed with the full participation of the FDNY, on June 10, 2007, The FDNY Memorial Wall was dedicated to the memory of Glenn J. Winuk, volunteer firefighter, partner and colleague of Holland + Knight, who lost his life as he tried to save others in the fall of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001.

The 1913 Firemen’s Memorial in New City’s Riverside Park is held dear by the New York City Fire Department. It is dedicated “to our brave citizens who have lost or will sacrifice their lives in a war that never ends.” The bas-relief of the FDNY Memorial Wall, dedicated on June 10, 2007, is a composition inspired by the New York Fires Department's response to the events of 9/11. The FDNY Memorial Wall depicts the equipment, apparatus and tactics used in battling this tragic event. Not intended to be exact, it is meant to be inclusive, representing each group, tool and type of vehicle present that fateful day.

Viggo Rambusch, project manager and designer, felt it critical to reference history in creating a lasting tribute to our fallen heroes. He returned to classical heroic examples, namely the monument of the Roman Empire, Trajan’s Column and bas-relief. From his design, through funding, development and refinement toward fabrication, the Memorial was a coordinated team effort of many individuals, resulting in the fifty-six foot long bronze wall you see today at Ten House, adjacent to Ground Zero.




The FDNY memorial wall, a fifty-six foot long bronze wall of cast bas-relief bronze, honors those firefighters who gave their lives in service to the public on September 11, 2001. The New York City Fire Department’s desire was to establish a memorial both honoring these individuals and all firefighters worldwide. It contains the names of every active member of the Department who perished in the collapse of the Towers.

bas-relief
The bas-relief is a form found in the classical art tradition, reaching back two thousand years. In Rome, great marble columns retell the battles of Emperor Trajan and the campaigns of Marcus Aurelius. This modern bas-relief sculpture follows that tradition, commemorating the firefighters’ heroism on 9/11. Cast in enduring bronze, it recounts the story of 343 brave souls who gave their lives battling the inferno of the Twin Towers.

composition
Within the composition, movement begins on the edges, moving inward toward the focal point of the Twin Towers. Near-life-size figures look to the engulfed North Tower as its South sister suffers the fatal blow. The firefighters are seen moving inward, engaged in various activities—officers at command stations, men washing at a hydrant and carrying their equipment ever forward. Gradually these figures diminish in size as the eye reaches the dominant Twin Towers at the center of the work.

depiction
The FDNY Memorial Wall depicts forty-six firefighters and the many pieces of equipment used during the rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero. Enframed below is a complete roster of all active duty firefighters who perished on 9/11. They are listed by rank, alphabetically. Below these and extending across the entire installation, a time line begins on that brilliant late-summer morning, measuring the events to the end of all recovery efforts. The wide sidewalk lends immediate, close access to the Memorial at eye-level. The afternoon sun renders the sculptured bronze figures to life, while nighttime illumination allows visitors to experience the tribute during evening hours.

commission
Rambusch was approached by Holland + Knight. Viggo Rambusch created the initial design concept for the bas-relief. Rambusch Studios further developed the work, managing the project through installation. The design evolved in close collaboration with members of the New York City Fire Department, specifically Manhattan Borough Commander Harold Meyers. After receiving the approval of the New York City Fire Department and the patron, Holland & Knight LLP, Rambusch artist, Joseph Oddi, developed the initial series of visual design sketches. Following design approval, sculptor Joseph Petrovics modeled the full-scale clay model, which was subsequently cast in bronze by the Bedi-Makky Art Foundry of Brooklyn.

location
Comprised of fourteen individual bronze panels brazed together into an artwork weighing over three tons, the monument tribute is set into the west wall of Engine Company 10 – Ladder Company 10 on the corner of Greenwich and Liberty Streets. “Ten House” was damaged in the collapse of the Twin Towers, sitting directly south of the former World Trade Center Plaza. The restored station itself serves as a testament to the indomitable spirit that has fueled the rebuilding of lives, neighborhoods and dreams. It is the most fitting location to remember those lost while acknowledging those who must carry on.

©Rambusch Company, 2007