Sandy Hook Memorial


Winning entry (image ©SWA Group)

 

Commemorating the deaths of 26 victims of a well-publicized school shooting is no small chore. But because of the tragic events at its elementary school in 2012, the village of Sandy Hook has achieved national prominence as a symbol of the gun violence afflicting the nation. Although it is almost impossible to bring closure to such an event, the community did determine that the establishment of a memorial would at least be a positive step in that direction. To arrive at such an important issue as a design for the memorial, it was determined that an international design competition was a logical path to follow.

 

Although this was not a competition for a large structure, interest was understandably high in the design community, with the result that 189 international submissions were received from around the world. For subjects such as this, a single symbolic structure was hardly the answer. The closest any of the three second-stage finalists came to employing this approach was SWA, the winner, who located a tree of life at the very center of the focal point of their submission—a large pond. But there was more to their design than that. Instead of locating the main event near the parking lot, they created a substantial journey along a pathway crossing two water features with pedestrian bridges, before arriving at the center of a large circular plan. Then one realizes that this was not just about the memorial itself, but fulfilling a larger purpose with an attractive park for walkers and joggers, an additional purpose added to those of contemplation and paying homage.

 

The two other finalists chose different approaches. A team composed of Teri Kwant (AIGE NAI), Joan MacLeod (ASLA) and Julia McFadden (AIA) with Alex Felson (ASLA) had a circular plan, but with various theme stages along the way before arriving at the main destination, the Memorial Grove. One of the stations, “the breathing field,” consisted of a large floral area within a circular walkway, somehow reminiscent of Tolstoy’s impressive burial marker in Yasnaya Polyana, a small mound only adorned with flowers. This was a design clearly focused on the mind and senses.

 

The final finalist, Justin Arleo from Arizona, concentrated his commemorative design on a bosque of trees, arranged in a very linear fashion, like what might have been imagined by landscape architect, Dan Kiley. Here, the processional was located in a covered wooded area. In a departure from the other finalists, access to this memorial site was directly available from the parking area.

 

 

Winner

SWA Group, led by Ben Waldo and Daniel Affleck with SWA/Balsley, Jim

Garland, AIA of Fluidity and Sherwood Design Engineers.

San Francisco/New York

 


Winning entry (image ©SWA Group)

 

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Recent Archive Updates

Interview: James Mary O’Connor FAIA (Winter 2017)

After receiving his Diploma in Architecture from the Dublin Institute of Technology and BS in Architecture from Trinity College in Dublin, James received his Masters in Architecture from the University of California, Los Angeles while a Fulbright Scholar in the U.S. Shortly after his time as a student in Charles Moore’s Master Class at UCLA, he joined the Moore firm in Los Angeles, now Moore Ruble Yudell. Beginning in the late 1980s, he was involved in the firm’s many projects in Germany, many of which dealt with masterplanning and the construction of large housing, primarily in Berlin. Subsequently, he was involved in the Potatisåkern Master Plan & Housing, as well as the Bo01 Housing Exhibition, both in Malmö, Sweden.
James was MRY’s point person in its subsequent involvement with the firm’s many projects in the People’s Republic of China, beginning with their winning competition proposal for the Century Center project in Beijing. Although unbuilt, it didn’t escape the notice of the Chinese, who invited the firm to participate in a competition for the Tianjin Xin-He large neighborhood masterplan—which they won. This was followed by the 2004 Chun Sen Bi An Housing Masterplan competition in the city of Chongqing, located in central China—completed in 2010. This high profile project resulted in a number of affordable and high-end housing projects throughout China. The firm’s most remarkable sustainability project was the COFCO Agricultural Eco-Valley Master Plan project outside Beijing, envisioned to become the first net zero-carbon project of its kind in the world.
In the meantime, the firm’s focus in China has evolved from its concentration on housing to institutional projects, such as the Shanghai University of Technology‘s research buildings. In the meantime MRY has been noted as a leader in the design of campus projects in the U.S. and abroad, as well as numerous government projects—courthouses and embassies.

 

 

Interview: Peter Schaudt (Fall 2008)

 

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Peter Schaudt
Winner, Nathan Philips Square International Design Competition, 2007
Rome Prize Winner in Landscape Architecture (FAAR), American Academy in Rome Fellowship, 1990-1991
Third Place, Kent State May 4 Memorial National Design Competition, 1986
Citation of Merit, Innovations in Housing National Design Competition, 1986
Second Place, Copley Square National Design Competition (4 person team), 1984
Meritorious Award, Vietnam Veterans Memorial National Design Competition, 1981

 

COMPETITIONS: Environment often plays a role in what we choose to do with our lives. What was the determining factor that led you to become a landscape architect?

 

 

PETER SCHAUDT: My first goal was to become an architect. As I studied architecture here (in Chicago) at UIC, I was exposed to the great park system legacy of Chicago. We had many studios in the parks here. What actually led me to become a landscape architect was the Vietnam War Memorial Competition. I needed an art credit in architecture school, so rather than taking color theory or painting, and after seeing the poster, I approached the dean. He told me I could do it; ‘but you have to do it without an architect.’ So I teamed up with Charles Wilson, a wonderful sculptor at UIC, and I looked at that park through the eyes of a sculptor as opposed to an architect. The site in constitution gardens was a rolling site — very difficult because the competition site was half of an amoeba shape. That’s why Maya Lin’s project is so amazing. It’s because she was able to tie (her design) into the context.

 

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Shanghai Nature Museum and Plaza Competition - Winning entry (Rendering by Perkins + Will)

 

PS: I worked on it as an independent studio, made a couple of models and really elaborate drawings, and it led me to really pursue landscape more closely. Then I started reading more about Dan Kiley and his work here in Chicago at the Art Institute. I did win a merit award for my Vietnam Memorial design: there were over 1,400 entries, and they selected 46 merit award winners which I assume might have been the last day of judging and were on exhibit at the Octagon Building in Washington. As a senior in undergraduate school, that gave me an incredible amount of confidence.
viatnam night image vietnam pencil rendering
Vietnam Memorial Competition, Washington, DC - Meritorious Selection

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