MIT unveils Collier memorial

Photo of granite sculpture with a few people nearby.

MIT’s new memorial to police officer Sean Collier, designed by Prof. Meejin Yoon. (Photo by Sarah Hansen.)

By Joe Pickett, OCW Publication Director

Last month MIT dedicated the memorial to MIT police officer Sean Collier, who died two years ago in an attack by the Boston Marathon bombers. (You can see a video of the entire dedication ceremony here.)

Already the monument has become a cherished part of the MIT campus, a special place for quiet reflection, conversation, and just being together.

Officer Collier was no ordinary policeman. The many tributes that have been voiced attest to his remarkable ability to connect with people from all facets of MIT—students, instructors, researchers, staff members. He took a genuine interest in what people were doing, and he did a lot himself, both in and out of uniform, participating enthusiastically in several MIT clubs.

Situated next to the Stata Center, the monument is striking in its elegant simplicity. It consists of five arches connected by a central keystone. The arches are assembled from 32 pieces of shaped granite and arranged to evoke the fingers of an open hand.  The granite pieces offset one other in a precise and stable balance. Their weight alone holds the monument together.

In the words of MIT President Rafael Reif, the memorial is “a new gateway to the campus we share . . .  I hope that in its graceful display of invisible physical forces, it can become a daily reminder of those invisible human forces that create community.”

The monument was designed by the head of MIT’s Architecture Department, Professor J. Meejin Yoon.

A longstanding supporter of OCW, Professor Yoon recently published her fifth OCW course, taught with Professor Neri Oxman,  4.110J Integrative Design Across Disciplines, Scales, and Problem Contexts. Appropriately enough, it “explores the reciprocal relationship among design, science and technology.”

The making of the memorial was recorded in the above video, which shows the shaping of the stones, the painstaking construction (through the massive snows of last winter), and the entwining of art and engineering in the memorial’s design.

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