Sandy Hook Memorial Design USA, Connecticut Landscape Images, US Public Realm News
Sandy Hook Memorial Design in Connecticut
Newtown Commemoration Proposal, CO design by SWA Landscape Architects, USA
November 14, 2022
Design: SWA Group
Location: Newtown, Connecticut, United States of America
Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Designed by SWA Group Opens to Public
Photos by David Lloyd, courtesy SWA Group, otherwise noted
Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Opening
San Francisco, CA (November 14, 2022) — International landscape architecture, planning, and urban design firm SWA Group announce the opening of their design, The Clearing, which was selected unanimously by the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission among 189 international design submissions and with overwhelming support from the families of the victims. The Memorial was is implemented on a donated five-acre site in Newtown, Connecticut.
The designers Daniel Affleck and Ben Waldo wanted to create a memorial space in which visitors could participate, and which would grow with them over time. Three primary elements — the circle, the path, and the tree — are the hallmarks of a design that achieves these goals.
A circling network of paths takes the visitor through a woodland, across ponds and meadows. The paths connect to one another and allow the pedestrian to experience the space in their own way and at their own pace before arriving at the center. This is meant to honor the process of grieving and remembrance.
The Clearing represents a culmination of many years of effort as the site was previously a greenfield with no infrastructure, water, or electricity. The design is appropriately scaled to the space and the community’s needs. Mature maple trees surround the site, adding to the sense of envelopment and enclosure in nature.
The Sandy Hook Memorial differs from other memorials in that it was publicly funded and completely community-led. It is also primarily landscape rather than a monument. Memorials are typically embedded in landscape rather than having landscape as the focus.
The site-driven design was informed and reflective of its woodland setting. The Memorial is only a quarter mile from Sandy Hook Elementary, the scene of the tragedy – easily within walking distance of the school and children’s voices can be heard from the site.
The design promotes interactivity and contemplation, emulating the meditative quality of walking in the woods. The seasonality of the design emphasizes growth and change. Cues to the visitors’ approach to the central water feature and a sacred sycamore tree engage the senses. Frogs, birds, and insects are audible before the creek like rush of the water feature predominates. Sonic elements leverage the calming intangibles of being in nature. Additionally, the crunch of gravel underfoot fades after a final bend in the trail, where the surface is replaced by cobblestone around the water feature.
After visitors walk the spiraling path to the water feature (which may be glimpsed at various points along the trail), the clearing has an open quality. The views evolve upon approach, and the topography and vegetation change.
The cleanly cut, pale granite surrounding the water feature is unique to the central feature and contrasts with the more naturalistic treatments surrounding it. The stone’s form echoes the spiraling quality of the path, but is directionally juxtaposed: the trail spirals clockwise, while the water flows counter-clockwise.
The water around the central tree is in constant motion, creating (in concert with the trail), a mandala-like quality. The water feature’s circular edge is engraved with the equally-spaced names of those lost, so that visitors can locate a specific loved one’s name and interact from there with the water and the central tree.
On special occasions, visitors are invited to place a candle or flower in the water and watch it spiral toward the central tree, offering a sense of ritual as well as reflecting the process of grieving.
Previously on e-architect:
June 15, 2021
Design: SWA Group
Location: Newtown, Connecticut, USA
Approval for Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Design, Connecticut, USA
Project to take shape under the watchful eyes of two young SWA designers
Renderings courtesy SWA Group
Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Design Approval
San Francisco, CA (June 15, 2021) – International landscape architecture, planning, and urban design firm SWA Group announce the approval of their design, “The Clearing,” which after a five-year process of site selection and development of memorial criteria, was selected unanimously by the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission among 189 international design submissions and with overwhelming support from the families of the victims. The Memorial will be implemented on a donated five-acre site in Newtown, Connecticut.
The groundbreaking of the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial will take place in August 2021. The opening is slated to take place on December 14, 2022, the 10th Anniversary of the tragedy.
The 1.8-acre Memorial has been designed as a place to remember and celebrate the lives that were lost at Sandy Hook Elementary, a tragedy of profound dimensions. How can a place honor these lives, as the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission urged, for the families who grieve the loss of a loved one and for the many in the community, and beyond, whose lives were touched in ways that are hard to describe or quantify?
These were the questions facing landscape designers Daniel Affleck and Ben Waldo of SWA Group’s San Francisco studio when they responded to a call for design proposals and ultimately responded with a vision that won the trust of the families who lost their children and loved ones.
Three hallmarks of the design include the circle, the path, and the tree. A circling network of paths takes the visitor through a woodland and meadows. The connecting paths allow the walker to experience the space in their own way and at their own pace before arriving at the center, and are meant to honor the process of grieving and remembrance.
The Memorial Clearing is framed by. In the center, a water feature sits in a granite basin. The edge of the feature is engraved with the names of the victims. Water flows spiral inwards towards a planter at the center, where a young tree, the “Sacred Sycamore,” is planted at the center of the pool to symbolize the growth of the community. The motion of the water embraces the tree and captures the energy, form, and cycle of the landscape around it. Visitors are encouraged to give a candle or a flower to the water, which will carry the offering across the space in an act of bridging the deceased and the living.
“We wanted to acknowledge that the healing process does not end, but continues and grows,” said co-designer Daniel Affleck, who grew up nearby in West Hartford, Connecticut. “This finds its expression in both the plantings and reflecting pool, which reflect the seasonality of nature and constant change through the movement of water.”
“Our path moves in gentle circles through a flowering woodland which celebrates the lives of the victims, and eventually arrives at a central memorial ‘clearing’ where the community can gather in love for those lost,” continues co-designer Ben Waldo. “The path has no true beginning or end, which allows visitors to experience the space at their own pace and in their own way, while always bringing them closer together.”
Team members supporting the realization of this vision include JMC for civil engineering, GNCB for structural engineering, Atelier Ten for lighting, Fluidity, a water feature design company, and Artemis a local landscape architect, whose scope is focused on planting and construction administration.
SWA is a world-renowned landscape architecture, planning, and urban design firm celebrated for its creativity, responsiveness, and design excellence. The firm’s work gives new life to outdoor spaces at multiple scales – from public plazas to waterfronts to entire city districts – harnessing natural systems while enhancing the unique characteristics of each setting. SWA has studios in Dallas, Houston, Laguna Beach, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Sausalito and Shanghai. For more information, please visit www.swagroup.com.
Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission
The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission was appointed in 2013 by the Board of Selectmen for the Town of Newtown, Connecticut. Its charge was to address questions about whether there should be a permanent memorial to honor those whose lives were lost at Sandy Hook School in December 2012, and, if so, what and where it should be and how it should be funded.
Previously on e-architect:
Aug 29, 2018
Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Design in Connecticut
Design: Ben Waldo and Daniel Affleck, SWA Group in San Francisco & Justin Winters, SWA/BALSLEY in New York
Location: Newtown, Connecticut, USA
Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Design, Connecticut, USA
Address: Sandy Hook Elementary School, 375 Fan Hill Rd, Monroe, CT 06468, USA
Phone: (203) 426-7657
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