Sandy Hook Memorial



Newtown, CT



“Reflected Embrace” is a memorial designed to create an inspirational and safe setting to instill in visitors a sense of dignified peace and reflection designed around honoring and respecting those who were killed and those whose lives were touched and altered forever. This new space provides a place of solace, peace, and eternal commemoration defined by gravity, beauty and embrace. It is as much a place to grieve as it is a place to come together and celebrate the spirit and joy of the memory of those children and educators whose lives were taken. The general layout of “Reflected Embrace” is inspired by the natural character of the existing site conditions and maintains a sense of private reflection within the quiet woods. An enclosure concealed from neighboring properties by evergreen trees creates a special parking area which announces the presence of the memorial and directs visitors to the stone entry plaza. The formal beginning of a classical allée of native canopy tree plantings that frame the site entry is marked by an American flag. The path extends from the upper arrival area down into the memorial site and is comprised of monolithic granite slabs arranged along a southwest axis aligned with the adjacent school as a gesture to the community of teachers and students who spent their last moments embracing and protecting one another with their lives. The existing grade change of roughly 20 feet is resolved with elegance and purpose through the sculpted earthworks and accompanying trees that provide a seamless entry sequence well integrated into the existing hillsides. As a result, the entire path is ADA accessible and engages visitors in a calm, while quiet fashion. The path stretches the presentation of the memorial over two-and-a-half minutes of gradual decent, while unfolding views in a park like setting. This feature enhances acoustical separation, which emphasizes the silence that the event left behind.



























Upon entering the lower area, an emotional and physical resonance gently shifts one’s mind and body into a moment and space of empathy, optimism and endurance. The generous scale of the reflecting pool measuring approximately 100’ x 140’, prevents one from seeing the entire pool in a single view. This creates a sense of physiological immensity as a reference to the limitless possibilities of the children’s imaginations and strength and courage of the educators. The shallow pool is lined in black polished stone, greatly enhancing its reflective qualities and creating a simple figure to represent the silence and loss of the innocent lives. The shallow pool is imagined to be drained and embedded with a low-energy heating element for the winter months to keep the oval always open and free of snow and ice, ensuring year-round use. Security lighting and emergency vehicular access is incorporated into the design throughout. The Sacred Soils is buried underneath the center of the reflecting pool. All twenty six of the inscribed granite benches provided by the hundreds of citizens across the country are equally spaced around the reflecting pool beneath a circle of proud and stately canopy trees. Visitors are invited to sit on the benches and view the reflection of the stone, trees, benches, and surrounding woodland in a solemn reverence to the victims of this senseless tragedy. As one walks around the circular terrace the landscape shifts and changes while the omnipresent black circle remains unchanged signifying our eternal commitment to honoring the memory of the lives lost and families forever changed. The material and design register a quiet, yet significant, emotional journey of loss, anger, fear, and love that still resonates today, while providing a place to go, but never a place to be stuck. The reflecting pool is connected to a larger path network organized around three interconnected loops that guide visitors around ponds, forest, and hillsides beyond. The larger circulation network also connects to existing Treadwell Park trail and has the potential to connect to the old path to the school if desired. The new path systems navigate twenty-six feet of elevation change, all of which is ADA accessible. “Reflected Embrace” is imagined to be an experience understood through movement, reflection and time. The design provides a multiplicity of personal readings and interpretations rather than a traditional object. The scale and low maintenance natural material choice communicated through earth, trees, water and stone is intended to evoke a sense of eternal permanence and dignified weight befitting an event of such monumental proportions. On behalf of our team, we thank you in advance for this opportunity to make a proposal for the memorial to honor the children and educators who tragically lost their lives five years ago on December 14, 2012.

Upon entering the lower area, an emotional and physical resonance gently shifts one’s mind and body into a moment and space of empathy, optimism and endurance. The generous scale of the reflecting pool measuring approximately 100’ x 140’, prevents one from seeing the entire pool in a single view. This creates a sense of physiological immensity as a reference to the limitless possibilities of the children’s imaginations and strength and courage of the educators. The shallow pool is lined in black polished stone, greatly enhancing its reflective qualities and creating a simple figure to represent the silence and loss of the innocent lives. The shallow pool is imagined to be drained and embedded with a low-energy heating element for the winter months to keep the oval always open and free of snow and ice, ensuring year-round use. Security lighting and emergency vehicular access is incorporated into the design throughout. The Sacred Soils is buried underneath the center of the reflecting pool. All twenty six of the inscribed granite benches provided by the hundreds of citizens across the country are equally spaced around the reflecting pool beneath a circle of proud and stately canopy trees. Visitors are invited to sit on the benches and view the reflection of the stone, trees, benches, and surrounding woodland in a solemn reverence to the victims of this senseless tragedy. As one walks around the circular terrace the landscape shifts and changes while the omnipresent black circle remains unchanged signifying our eternal commitment to honoring the memory of the lives lost and families forever changed. The material and design register a quiet, yet significant, emotional journey of loss, anger, fear, and love that still resonates today, while providing a place to go, but never a place to be stuck. The reflecting pool is connected to a larger path network organized around three interconnected loops that guide visitors around ponds, forest, and hillsides beyond. The larger circulation network also connects to existing Treadwell Park trail and has the potential to connect to the old path to the school if desired. The new path systems navigate twenty-six feet of elevation change, all of which is ADA accessible.

“Reflected Embrace” is imagined to be an experience understood through movement, reflection and time. The design provides a multiplicity of personal readings and interpretations rather than a traditional object. The scale and low maintenance natural material choice communicated through earth, trees, water and stone is intended to evoke a sense of eternal permanence and dignified weight befitting an event of such monumental proportions. On behalf of our team, we thank you in advance for this opportunity to make a proposal for the memorial to honor the children and educators who tragically lost their lives five years ago on December 14, 2012.