A “constellation garden” that follows the orientation of the stars above the Kennedy Building on April 30, 2019, is the basis of the conceptual design for the UNC Charlotte Remembrance Memorial. The memorial will honor and forever remember Riley Howell and Reed Parlier, who lost their lives in that day’s campus shooting, and pay tribute to Rami Alramadhan, Sean DeHart, Emily Houpt and Drew Pescaro, who suffered physical injuries, and everyone who was present in Kennedy 236.
Brook Muller, dean of UNC Charlotte’s College of Arts + Architecture and chair of the Memorial Jury, announced the decision for the permanent memorial on April 30 during this year’s Virtual Day of Remembrance commemoration, two years after the shooting. The design, submitted by TEN x TEN Landscape Architecture and Urbanism, Hypersonic Collaborative and Susan Hatchell Landscape Architecture, was selected from four finalists and a total of 36 submissions from locally and nationally known design teams.
“All the finalists’ designs were incredibly creative,” said Muller. “The presentation led by TEN X TEN Landscape Architecture and Urbanism, however, was moving and emotional. Every element is active and engaging, and thoughtfully attached to meaning specific to the UNC Charlotte community. The depiction of the stars, portrayed by lights that are activated when people touch the memorial’s arched structure; the adjacent gathering spaces that feature symbols-based plants that represent human emotions such as sorrow, divine sacrifice, strength, hope, love, and peace and harmony; and stone benches etched with the names of Reed and Riley and the survivors create an atmosphere of contemplation and reflection, with textured earthbound elements complementing those that are high tech.”
The second anniversary of the tragic events of April 30, 2019, began with a solemn early-morning ceremonial wreath laying led by UNC Charlotte’s Department of Police and Public Safety (PPS) in front of the Kennedy Building, the site of the shooting. Throughout the day, during which no classes were held, virtual and in-person activities ranging from restorative yoga, communal art projects, virtual discussions and a virtual 4.9 run-walk brought together faculty, staff and students. A new exhibit, “Charlotte Strong: Tragedy and Response,” featuring photo archives and memorials from April 30, 2019 and the days following, opened at the Popp Martin Student Union Art Gallery, through May 28. (For the schedule of the day’s events, visit NinerNationRemembers.)
“In my time as chancellor, I have watched and learned from a community that has been united and fortified by the challenges it has endured,” said Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber. “I fully endorse the commission’s recommendations. It is a beautiful memorial that unites Riley’s love of nature with Reed’s passion for technology — and captures the strength and resilience of our survivors and Niner Nation. It is a memorial that will stand the test of time.”
The day culminated with a Virtual Remembrance Program from 5:15 to 5:40 p.m., concluding with the ringing of the ceremonial Old Bell. The program was offered online and broadcast at Jerry Richardson Stadium, providing a community gathering space for viewing the program together. The program featured remarks by Chancellor Gaber, Chancellor Emeritus Philip L. Dubois, Professor Julia Robinson Moore, Student Government Association representatives Tahlieah Sampson and Chandler Crean ‘20; choral performances by The Charlotteans and Voices of Eden; a video chronicling the lives of Riley Howell and Reed Parlier; and the announcement by Muller about the design for the memorial to be constructed at Belk Plaza in front of Kennedy. At sundown, PPS will lead the removal of the wreaths from their positions at Kennedy.
Dubois, who was chancellor on April 30, 2019, referred in his remarks to the significance of ringing the Old Bell, a UNC Charlotte tradition that has marked historic University occasions for the past 50 years. “It reminds us that April 30 is an essential part of our history and that it, too, marks an important day that must be remembered,” he said. “UNC Charlotte continues to grow stronger as a result both of positive accomplishments but also by weathering the difficult moments. Recovery is only made possible by remembrance and resilience. A resilient Niner Nation remembers this day and always will.”
TEN X TEN will begin meeting with University stakeholders, including students, faculty and staff, to present the conceptual design illustrating how the commemorative space will be developed. Groundbreaking for the memorial is expected to take place in April 2022.