In Jan. 2020, Emeritus Chancellor Dubois accepted the Niner Nation Remembrance Commission’s recommendations for the memorial to honor the tragic events of April 30, 2019. This communal and interactive memorial begins April 30, 2022, in Belk Plaza between the ellipse fountain and the Kennedy Building.
The Niner Nation Remembrance Commission, a jury of design and advisors, is overseeing construction. The dean of arts and architecture, Brook Muller, facilitated the commission.
Muller spoke with the Niner Times to provide an update on the construction and design of this powerful memorial.
Currently, the design team members are in the schematic design phase and are meeting every other week. The commission ensures that as the project develops and the budget is met, the power behind the memorial is not lost and remains pure.
“It’s becoming more and more real,” said Muller.
The project utilizes an array of different field specialists working to create an interactive art feature with a budget of $2,000,000.
“We have a good team that is sensitive,” said Muller. “We have landscapers, architects and an art studio working together.”
The commission selected TEN X TEN Landscape Architecture and Urbanism, Hypersonic Collaborative and Susan Hatchell Landscape Architecture as the finalists of many local and national submissions. The finalists and design plans for the memorial were announced on April 30, 2020, during the Day of Remembrance on campus.
The memorial itself is called a “constellation garden,” and it will have moveable lighting elements. The lights will be an abstraction of the stars from the night sky from April 30, 2019. The stars from that night were hemispherically mapped and placed as lights on the structure to achieve this.
The structure is also interactive, meaning that touching the structure will activate it, allowing for the lights to change. The more people who touch it, the more dynamic the lights will be. The memorial will also have concrete and stone benches for observers to sit and contemplate both the events of that day and the future. These design choices were intentionally chosen and will work to create a message.
“The memorial is a dialogue where the lights represent the celestial, starry heavens, while the concrete and stone represent grounding,” said Muller.
There will be a plant palette surrounding the memorial that will be “symbolic of hope, anguish, sadness and resilience,” said Muller.
This story, told through the design, will work to honor the lives of Reid Parlier and Riley Howell, the two students whose lives were taken as a result of the shooting, those injured and all members of the UNC Charlotte community who were impacted.
The commission consulted the families of both Parlier and Howell regarding the design and message of the memorial to best honor their lives.
Muller describes the project as “sensitive and poetic. It speaks to tragedy, allows for reflection, remembrance, and coming to terms.”
Muller hopes that the structure will bring “contemplation and reflection” to those who view it for years to come.
During the events of April 30, Muller was in Oregon, where he was the director of an environmental sustainability program; however, he was “CC’d” on numerous emails about UNC Charlotte and the events taking place.
“I could see how caring this community was,” said Muller.
Even though it is only his third year at UNC Charlotte, Muller said that “It is truly an honor to play a role in the realization of the project that will be an enduring, beautiful landscape for years and years.”
The memorial will break ground on the third anniversary, April 30, 2022, and the completion date is not yet confirmed.