Sandy Hook Memorial

Competition 2017   Newtown Connecticut    Competition Team   Thomas Cheney - Douglas Coffin

 

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Sandy Hook
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We envision the Sandy Hook Memorial site to be a place of peace for contemplation and reflection on not only the tragedy of the shooting, but also on the lives of the people who will gather here in the decades to come when the rawness of the shooting is somewhat covered by the robes of time.  Toward that end, the circular garden is positioned at the back of the site where it is accessible for those who want to go there, but there is room, too, for those who want a quiet place in which to enjoy nature and their families.
 
One primary issue that we discussed but that must be addressed more formally by the committee is to determine how many victims were felled.  We suggest that there were six educators, 20 students and the mother of the shooter who was also a victim.  That she allowed the shooter's access to weapons was careless and ignorant, but she was not malicious.  Perhaps she was the victim of her own upbringing, too, but this isn't a moment to assess the skill of someone's parenting;  this is a memorial to try to heal from the loss of loved ones and the mother no doubt had loved ones who mourn her. Understanding and attempting to accept loss can not be enhanced by hatred and vengeance.
 
In an ancillary role, this memorial poses an opportunity to talk about mental health and perhaps the insufficient attention that our communities devote to making all its citizens safe.  Certainly the conversation about the casual availability of so many guns in our country is on the table.
 
The parking lot orients the cars away from the slight rise that overlooks the memorial below.  Visitors can take the shortcut nearer the entrance (also the emergency vehicle path), but the handicapped ramp through the trees is a quiet, lengthened entry way.  One walks down looking at the memorial from above and gradually walks away from it, too.  A curve swings the view of the memorial back into view and a straight, almost
church-like aisle through the meadow marks the entrance to the memorial itself.  There would be a retaining wall at the bottom of the path created from a more casual splay of stones that would be overtaken by growth, that connects this path with the other area trails.  The drywall of the memorial is a more measured use of the stone.  Crushed gravel is a fine, low-maintenance path surface.
 
The gateway into the dry-wall enclosure itself is one wheelchair wide to suggest that everyone who enters enters alone with their own thoughts and reasons.  A circular walkway immediately opens up with a single, unifying ring bench looking at a perennial garden in the center on a slight rise.  The drywall surround would be high enough to focus thought inside it, toward the garden.  The circle, at 40 feet diameter, is large enough, too, for privacy.  
 
Each paver of the walkway would have the name of each educator and their title at the school.  Each child would have his or her name and age on it.  The mother of the shooter would have only her name.  

THOMAS CHENEY ARCHITECTS       523 SOUTH MAIN STREET       SEATTLE WASHINGTON 98104       206 708 5816       STUDIO@THOMASCHENEYARCHITECTS.COM

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