Madeleine Cotts of BCK-IBI Group (Architect) and David Marsland (Project Manager);
with Milon Townsend (Glass Artist)
ACA Memorial, 2013
Granite, casted glass, steel, and bronze
Location: Corner of East Clinton & Front Street, Binghamton
Funded by Donations of the Families of the Victims
Donation from the Families and Friends of Victims
The ACA Memorial was commissioned by the city of Binghamton to honor the memories of those lost in a tragic shooting that took place at the American Civic Association Building in Binghamton on April 3, 2009. On that day, a local resident entered the building and, heavily armed, shot and killed thirteen people before turning the gun on himself. The tragedy shocked the region and indeed the country, given its national news coverage; it also traumatized the local immigrant community, which had long benefited from the language classes, social events, and other activities arranged by the ACA to assist recent arrivals to the area.
The memorial offers a vision of healing meant to honor the memories of those lost in the attack. Completed in 2012, the project was the result of collaboration between Madeleine Cotts of BCK Architects and Engineers and project manager David Marsland, whose wife was one the thirteen victims. The pair envisioned a memorial that would convey the emotional trauma felt by the loved ones of the victims, capturing the diversity of
those victims’ backgrounds, and provides a quiet space for reflection.
The memorial is orientated around a broken column, alluding to the nineteenth century Victorian symbol – typically used to memorialize a life cut short. While evoking this Victorian practice, however, the memorial designers chose to add a translucent glass element rising from the column’s center in order to bring the attention to the present. On each of its nine sides the column bears a word or phrase of peace or non-violence in each of the nine native languages of the victims.
Surrounding the column are thirteen sculptures of birds in flight, with wings outstretched, so as to capture the animate spirit of each victim. Milton Townsend, the glass artist hired to create these figurines, states that these thirteen birds are meant to symbolize the thirteen victims of the shooting, each of whom passed on and flew from this world to a new one. The birds themselves are cast in glass and internally illuminated by LED lights. Each bird is carefully positioned atop a fifteen-foot steel stand, allowing the birds to appear as if soaring through the sky.
Since its completion in 2013, the ACA memorial has been the site of multiple services on anniversaries of the attack. With its powerful imagery, the memorial literally illuminates the potential for a community to come together when clouded by the darkness of tragedy.
Researched by: Sam Davidowitz-Neu
Photographs provided by: the ACA Memorial Fund