Memorial FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Triangle Memorial Project

Why is this memorial important?
The tragic deaths of 146 workers in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire – most of whom were young, immigrant women – was a pivotal moment in our nation’s history, leading to increased union organizing, labor law reform, and fire safety regulations that continue to protect us today.

Today, there are very few memorials or monuments of any kind to women, to workers, or to immigrants. We, at the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, believe that this is wrong and that remembering these workers and honoring their legacies is long overdue.

How was the memorial design chosen?
In January 2013, the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition launched an international competition under the direction of architect Ernesto Martinez. We received over 170 entries from more than 30 countries. Although the RFTC was honored to host the competition, we did not have a vote or participate in the selection process. We left that to the experts! Blind entries were reviewed by a jury of professionals from the fields of architecture, art, fashion, and academia, including:
Deborah Berke, Jury Chair, architect, Dean, Yale University School of Architecture;
Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, public artist, professor, Yale University School of Art;
Yama Karim, architect, Daniel Libeskind Studio;
Wendy Feuer, Assistant Commissioner of Urban Design & Art, New York City Department of Transportation;
YeohleeTeng and Shani Grosz, fashion designers; and
Richard Greenwald, labor historian, Dean, St. Joseph’s College, New York.

Who are the winning designers?
The Triangle Fire Memorial was designed by Outer Architecture, a collaborative practice founded by Uri Wegman and Richard Joon Yoo.
Uri Wegman holds a bachelor of architecture from the Cooper Union and a Master’s degree with distinction from the Southern California Institute of Architecture. He is an adjunct faculty member at the Cooper Union where he teaches design studio. His work has been exhibited at Storefront for Art and Architecture and OffRamp, and has been published in the Journal of Architectural Education and the New York Times. He practiced at the Situ Studio and the Sarah Oppenheimer Studio before co-founding Outer Architecture.
Richard Joon Yoo is an architectural designer and artist in New York City. He is a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles. He led design studios and seminars at SCI_Arc and Woodbury in Los Angeles, lectured at 3rd Ward in Brooklyn, and taught workshops at the Taubman School of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan. His work has been published in the New York Times, the Villager, and World Landscape Architecture Magazine. He practiced at Eric Owen Moss Architects and the Sarah Oppenheimer Studio before co-founding Outer Architecture.

Why this location?
The Memorial will be built on the Brown (formerly Asch) Building where the fire took place. We looked at several possible sites, but after consultation with the Community Board, the Landmarks Commission, various city departments, NYU, and the public at a series of town-hall style meetings, it was decided that the building was the only viable spot for a permanent memorial.

How can you build a memorial on a landmarked building?
The Brown/Asch Building is landmarked not for its architectural significance, but because it was the location of the Triangle Fire. This memorial will speak to the very reason that the building has been recognized as historically significant.

Are Richard Joon Yoo and Uri Wegman being paid?
The Coalition believes that artists are workers too, and that they should be fairly compensated for their work. Richard and Uri received a $5,000 dollar prize for submitting the winning design, which was donated by the United College Employees, the faculty union at the Fashion Institute of Technology, SUNY. Any additional compensation they receive will be for necessary professional services they provide during the building process.

The capital budget for this project is $1.5 million. How will the money be spent?
The money will be used to pay for costs related to fabrication, installation, project management, safety, and permits.

Why is it necessary to raise an additional $1 million for an endowment fund?
Our agreement with New York University, which has generously allowed us to install the memorial on its building, calls upon us to provide for insurance and maintenance of the memorial, as well as its ongoing operational expenses. Creating an endowment fund to cover these costs is the only fiscally responsible way to embark upon a project of this size and complexity and, without it, the memorial cannot be built.

How much of the budget will be devoted to overhead?
We will need a small office. The bulk of our “staff” is currently made up of volunteers and has been since the Coalition’s beginning in 2008. Whatever paid professional staff is hired will have the expertise to bring the memorial project to completion.

In terms of cost, how does the Triangle Memorial compare to other memorials?
The Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial (1996) in New York City’s Riverside Park cost $1.65 million in 2012 dollars. It was originally projected to cost $1.2 million in 2012 dollars. The memorial has an endowment to cover damage and maintenance.
The Irish Hunger Memorial in New York City (2002) cost over $5 million and then required another $2.5 million for repairs.
The Harriet Tubman Memorial (2008) in New York City cost $2.3 million in 2012 dollars.
The Oklahoma City Memorial (1997) cost $10 million, NOT including the museum.

The following are costs to build several memorials in Washington, DC, in 2012 dollars:

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial (2011): $120 million; approximate cost in 2012 dollars: 122.6 million;
  • National World War II Memorial (2004): $182 million; approximate cost in 2012 dollars:$221.4 million;
  • Korean War Veterans Memorial (1995): $16.5 million; approximate cost in 2012 dollars: $24.9 million;
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt National Memorial (1997): $52 million; approximate cost in 2012 dollars: $74.5 million;
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial (1982): $8.4 Million; approximate cost in 2012 dollars: $19.5 million;
  • Thomas Jefferson Memorial (1943): $3 million; approximate cost in 2012 dollars: $39.9 million.
  • Lincoln Memorial (1922): $2,957,000; approximate cost in 2012 dollars: $40.5 million.
  • Washington Monument (1884): $1,187,710; approximate cost in 2012 dollars: $28.4 million.

When will the memorial be built?
As with all projects of this kind, predicting when the memorial will be completed can only be an educated guess. As a New York City landmark, the Landmarks Preservation Commission must review and approve the specifications for installing the memorial. New York State has graciously offered to cover $1.5 million in capital expenses, but the process of submitting invoices and paying vendors may cause temporary delays. Additionally, NYC Local Law 11 requires inspection and repair of building facades every 5 years. The Brown Building is scheduled to have scaffolding constructed to do all of the necessary Local Law 11 code compliance some time in 2017. Our best guess for completion of the memorial is the spring of 2019.

NYU owns the building, who owns the memorial?
Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition owns the memorial design and will be responsible for its long-term maintenance. But really, the memorial belongs to everyone!

What can I do to help?
Anyone who believes it’s important to remember the Triangle Fire is welcome to be involved! If you’ve got an idea for an educational event or arts project, want to host a fundraiser, or want to volunteer to help out at one of our events, contact us at info@rememberthetrianglefire.org.