A year after MIT Police Officer Sean Collier was allegedly shot and killed by the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, MIT unveiled its plans for a permanent memorial to him. Architecture Professor J. Meejin Yoon revealed her design at last Friday’s ceremony of remembrance for Collier.
“The memorial is inspired by the gesture of an open hand,” said Yoon in an interview with The Tech. In the design, five solid walls of granite enclose a space at the center. According to Eric Höweler, Yoon’s architectural collaborator, the goal is to open the memorial on the second anniversary of Collier’s death: April 18, 2015.
“The symbolism of the open hand resonates on many levels,” said Yoon. “The hand is a gesture of openness and generosity; it is also the alternative to a closed fist and a symbol of peace, and at MIT the hand has a special meaning as the complement to the mind and the symbol for applied knowledge.”
The memorial will be located between the Stata Center (Building 32) and the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research (Building 76), near where Collier was shot in his vehicle while on duty. Shortly after his death last year, a makeshift memorial was erected in the area.
MIT Police Chief John DiFava, the co-chair of the Sean Collier Permanent Memorial Committee, called the new permanent memorial “a continuation of the most incredible support one can imagine,” both for Sean Collier and for the police department. He said that the MIT Police were “impressed beyond words” with the design.
According to an email from MIT Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz SM ’01 last fall, the memorial committee was convened over the summer. Committee members include Provost Martin A. Schmidt PhD ’88 and students Sally A. Miller ’16 and Sara E. Ferry G. DiFava said that the committee selected the architect and categorized the data they received after they sent an email to the community soliciting input.
Several details of the project’s implementation have not yet been finalized.
“Right now, there are several different funding sources but [the funding of the memorial] hasn’t been completely worked out,” said DiFava. He mentioned that there have been many donors, including those who gave to the Sean Collier Memorial Fund.
“The reason why it’s difficult at this point to come up with a cost is because of the stone,” explained DiFava. “Is it already in the quarry? Does it have to be cut from the quarry? Are there pieces left over from some other job that we can use? These are all the questions that have to be answered, so before we can come up with actual prices, there’s an awful lot of work has to be done.”
In addition to the remembrance ceremony last Friday morning, MIT also held a community picnic in the afternoon to help rally for the 40-member MIT Strong marathon team, which raced in Monday’s Boston Marathon.
On the same day as the ceremony, a group of hackers called “Cranes for Collier” suspended thousands of white paper cranes beneath a skylight in the Stata Center as a tribute to Collier. According to the group’s website, the MIT administration has decided to leave the crane installation up indefinitely.