USF Students Design 9/11 Memorial

School of Architecture students designed a memorial that will be constructed on Madeira Beach and dedicated on the 10th anniversary of the tragedy.


By Daylina Miller

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 9, 2011) –  Three days before terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center’s twin towers, Stephen Cokley was called back to work as a New York City firefighter from Maderia Beach, Florida where he was building his retirement home.


 On September 11, 2001, Cokley died.


A memorial was built at the location where he was building his residence at Bay Point Drive. To further memorialize 9/11 and the victims and heroes, like Cokley, who tragically lost their lives, University of South Florida students designed the memorial that Madeira Beach is currently raising money for to build on the Intracoastal in time for 9/11’s 10th anniversary.


Greg Osburn and Eli Pano, graduate students in the School of Architecture at USF, are designing the memorial being built at Causeway Park. The monument’s main feature, a twisted I-beam from the twin towers, is sitting inside Maderia Beach City Hall awaiting its new home.


The I-beam was given to the city by the World Trade Center Artifacts program, run by the New York, New Jersey Port Authority.


“The whole thing started when Madeira Beach wanted to do a 9/11 monument and get a piece of the twin towers, preferably an eyebeam and not a straight eyebeam but a bent or distorted piece to show really what happened,” Osburn said. “It really talks about the tragedy.”


Bill Mallory, Maderia Beach Fire Chief, is excited that USF students designed the monument. He said the focus of the ad hoc committee created to plan the monument wanted local talent. He’s impressed with how every aspect of the design relates back to 9-11.


“What we really loved about the design was that almost every piece had reflection of 9-11,” Mallory said. “It’s a learning experience for people who go through it.”


“The basic concept of the memorial, the way we designed it is that someone not born by 9/11, would be able to learn and understand what happened that day,” Pano said. “For the people who did know, the memorial will serve as a place to reflect on what happened that day. It’s a hands-on museum. “


The monument has features such as the “Wall of Life” which is pitted with roughly 3,000 holes to represent the number of people that died that day. At night, the wall is backlit so passerbys can see it from a distance. There is also a four-panel glass portion the same height as the I-beam with the flight numbers of the planes in the order in which they crashed.


Another feature of the exhibit is an art display that can be switched out to host the 9/11-related artwork of community artists.


“On Madeira Beach, there are a lot of local artists and local galleries,” Osburn said. “When you hear about 9/11, you always hear, ‘we will never forget.’ So what we wanted to do was come up with a place where Madeira Beach can put on an art show or competition where the winning artist will get their piece of 9/11 artwork installed in the monument.”


Osburn submitted a design for the memorial after a friend of his father’s enlisted his architectural talents. Osburn asked Pano to help because “we are both students and it’s too big for just me to do by myself.”


“It’s our first time designing something that’s going to be built in real life on a full scale,” Pano said.


The designs included computer-generated perspectives of the memorial (see slideshow above) and suggestions for construction materials. With the help of the committee, the students have recruited the volunteer efforts of architects, engineers and contractors.


The materials are another story.


Two fundraisers have been held to offset the $70,000 needed for construction materials - a 4th of July celebration and a pancake breakfast at the Church by the Sea  - that raised about $8,500.


Groundbreaking and minor construction have been started but the city needs to raise the rest of the money to complete construction.


Regardless of whether construction is complete, there will be a dedication and memorial service at the site on 9/11.


Osburn and Pano said a website is being designed for the memorial so that visitors can print up a tour guide and fact sheet before they visit. Mallory said that they hope to add a virtual tour and podcast you can interact with on your iPad or smart phone as you walk through the memorial.


In the meantime, the city is asking for donated gift cards and money. A drop box is set up at City Hall.


Ken Markgraf, retired Chief of the New York City Fire Department, drove up to NYC from his home in Maderia Beach, despite retirement, to help out at Ground Zero. He was close friends with Cokley. Two other firefighters with ties to the community, Eric Allen and Neil Leavy, also died that day.


Markgraf is happy that the memorial will pay tribute to his fallen friend and other first responders to Ground Zero on 9/11.


“It’s going to be beautiful when it’s done,” Markgraff said. “You won’t see anything else like it in Florida.”


Daylina Miller can be reached at 813-500-8754.