Matthew Shepard Memorial
Thesis 2001 Laramie Wyoming
As September 11 brought with it the damage and destruction of two sites and three iconic structures, a third site and a fourth crash marked the worldʼs resistance to terrorism. To understand the selfless acts of bravery that the passengers and crew of flight 93, the world must understand the site that represented what did not happen. The landscape will retain the memory of a pre and post 911. All existing structures and machinery shall remain, and left to degrade. The dissolution of objects will become a measure of time, while alluding to the past history of the memorial. With over a half of million visitors already bearing witness to the site, the temporary memorial and the bermed earth have become valuable components in this memory.
Located at the off ramp from US30, the Park Service structure rooted in the local vernacular of indigenous stone will describe a boundary and act as a transition point. Leaving their vehicles behind, mourners will begin a journey by reorienting themselves in a brief overview of the events of 911 through exhibits and film. Here they will also have the opportunity to browse the permanent collection of memorabilia left at the crash. Access to the site shall be provided by shuttle from the Park Service building. The route follows Haul Road to Stauffer Road, stopping at a turn around at the intersection of Skyline road. The time allotted by this service will allow the visitor to become acquainted with the rural characteristics of the crash site. From here visitors will travel along the Skyline road to the first pavilion. Those requiring physical assistance will be met at the turn around and escorted for the remainder of the site.
The temporary memorial of chain link, displaying artifacts of memorabilia, will solidify into a permanent receptor of individual memory. Like an antique printer drawerʼs that was hung on walls to collect and display various sized objects, the permanent ʻshadow boxʼ will provide a dynamic display surface. Forming around the ʻwall,ʼ a building materializes out of indigenous stone and takes the same formal inconspicuous language as the vernacular architecture seen in farmlands around the site. Scaled to the only definitive space involved in the memory of Flight 93, the pavilion retains the dimensions of the Boeing 757. Located in the service wings are temporary storage of personal artifacts, and exhibit spaces for more focused
information on UA93: itsʼ crew and passengers. The pavilion will house all immediate support for the site with restrooms, shelter, and personal
waiting facilities providing additional spaces for retreat.
As part of the sites history revolves around the act of excavation and extraction of bituminous coal, the memorial landscape will become a repository for the collective memory of the visitors. Embodied in a milled polished stainless steel vessel with the name of one victim etched into the surface, the object will reflect sky, distort images of the land, and contrast the soil. Iron, one of the main alloys in stainless steel, needs coke a bi-product of coal, to fuel the smelting process. The memory vessel becomes sedimentary bringing full circle the previous actions of the site. Visitors that are granted access to the sacred site will be asked to carry from the pavilion one-memory vessel to help define the sacred ground. As stewards of the construction of the memorial, each person becomes a designer and builder. Whether they drop, wedge, skip, place, throw, bury, sink, hide, stack, or even pocket the vessel, each visitor retains an active role in the creation of the sacred landscape. With this constructive responsibility visitors will be encouraged to explore the site and appropriate the act of making as an expression of their support to the passengers and crew. The field will continue to expand as visitations to the site continue. The memorial will never provide the same experience, its boundaries are malleable, its form forever touched by its occupants decisions.