Safety and labor laws need to be enforced globally. Disregard for the rights of workers, safety regulations that are ignored, are factors that cause fires to end tragically as was the case more than 100 hundred years ago, but also as recently as in 2012, albeit in far away countries.
As a result from the 1911 disaster, a number of labor laws were passed, among them fire safety rules. One of the most vital parts of modern safety regulations is the EXIT sign, indicating a fire escape. In case of a fire, the green light guides you to the nearest emergency exit and hence to safety.
So the memorial will composed of 146 exit signs, each commemorating one of the 146 victims who lost their lives in the fire on 25 March 1911. The signs will be installed on the building’s facade, making use of the construction, the recess and larger windows provided on the Washington Place side of the building. The regular distribution of the signs and the mainly vertical emphasis stand for a shirtwaist blouse with a central row of buttons and perpendicular pleats running parallel on either side. The cabling between the signs will be visible, signifying the way the fates of the victims were linked in the tragedy.
Each exit sign is inscribed with the name and a symbol of that victim’s denomination. Family members of victims will the able to deposit a personal item in a small shrine contained in the sign. To dedicate the memorial, a commemorative service will be held on a 25th of March, beginning at 4.45, the time when the first fire alarm was sounded. During this ceremony, the memorabilia will be placed in the sign, which then will be attached to the building’s facade. Once all the signs are installed, the names of the victims will be read and one after another, the respective signs will light up in red.
When all signs are lit, the surroundings will be ablaze with red light, recalling the impact the flames on March 25, 1911 had on Washington Place and Greene Street. Finally the red light will fade to green. So the souls of the 146 victims are guided – figuratively speaking – to rest in the tranquillity that follows mortality. The green light’s healing properties impart new hope and joy of living in all our hearts.
The tragedy adhering to the building and the people are reconciled. While the dedication with the ceremony is a one-off event, the signs can be lit regularly: The exit signs will slowly start glowing at 4.45 pm. After 15 minutes, they will have reached their utmost intensity and will then begin to fade until they switch off at 5.15 pm. The visual impression might be further enhanced by the reflection of the sky in the window panes and the redish glow of the evening sun.