Atlantic City Boardwalk Holocaust Memorial  
 
   
Why This Design?

In its two primary formal elements—buckled boards and interstitial river of light—“Fractured Landscape” brilliantly articulates both the irredeemable destruction of a civilization and the necessary, if impossible to realize, desire to stitch the broken pieces together through memory.  

 In the words of winning architects Patrick Lausell and Paola Marquez, “Interrupting the linearity of the Boardwalk, the platform is a rupture, a disruptive force, an illogical moment in the sequence of history.”  The flowing sliver of light they have wedged between the broken surfaces is meant as both a visual rupture that pulls the curious passersby into the structure and as a broken shard that simultaneously connects the memorial to the Boardwalk, even as it cuts into the Boardwalk itself.  That is, it takes visitors off the Boardwalk and leaves them on the Boardwalk, but now inwardly changed.

 This design is especially compelling for the way it seems to take an existing part of the Boardwalk, something familiar and reassuringly continuous, and then breaks and buckles its horizontal plane, as if as if there had been a seismic event, a shifting of tectonic plates beneath.  Visitors will know that something happened here, and that it points to something that happened in Europe some 65 years ago. This section of the Boardwalk, now broken and buckled, reflects something broken in all of us, something that keeps breaking whenever we remember the annihilation of the Jews of Europe during World War II.  “Fractured Landscape” is a subtle but powerful reminder that attempts to integrate such memory into the public sphere can also cause something to disintegrate in all of us:  it is both a rupture and a repair.

ACBHM Juror James E. Young, 
Distinguished Professor, 
Department of Judaic & Near Eastern Studies, 
University of Massachusetts Amherst