Light Fabric, Triangle Fire Memorial Competition, NYC

The essence of a memorial is there for people to remember, and our design achieve it through two treatments.

The first one is strong and direct – recreate the scene where fire and smoke devoured the innocent young lives. The shape of the memorial abstractly imitates the smoke roaring out of the window, and wrapping around the whole building façade from 8th floor and above. Seen closer, the material resembles the texture of fabrics that victims used to create shirtwaist, the very materials they worked with to make a living and also lose life to. Carefully placed inside the memorial are 146 triangular mirrors. Shone by the sun, blinks of light will filter through the thick “smoke”, representing the vulnerable victims who were at the brink of death.

The second treatment is very subtle. Each triangular mirror placed in the memorial has one victim’s information carved on it, and is carefully angled so in the afternoon, close to the time where the fire started, sunlight will be reflected, lighting the victims’ names on the sidewalk. The mirrors were shaped in triangle to correlate to the namesake of the memorial. In Manhattan, the closely seated buildings and narrow streets set the stage for changing lights, and the interplay of shadows and sunlight become a part of the pedestrian experience of the city. Thus the memorial tries to blend itself into this experience and enhance it, reminding people that the safe working environment, shortened working hour and pleasant after-work walk were made possible by the sacrifice of the workers in triangle factory.

1. Wide flange beam is bolted to the building structure
2. Main structural truss is welded to the wide flange beam through a cross pad
3. Steel tubes are welded to the truss
4. Steel tubes are treaded into the tube joint
Considering the active use of Brown Building, the design carefully arranges the structure so as not to block any required fenestration. And the structure of the memorial consists of simple modules that can be easily removed temporarily for facade maintenance. Sunlight is reflected by carefully angled mirror towards the sidewalk, so there won’t be any disturbance for residents or passing traffic.


New York University


Manhattan, New York, United States


0.2 ha

Previous projects