Panel Poised to Select Jan. 8 Memorial Designer

January 15, 2015

The Pima County Courthouse

El Presidio Park, home of the historic Pima County Courthouse, has been selected as the location for the Jan. 8 memorial.

by Brad Poole

Four years after a shooting rampage left six southern Arizonans dead and more than a dozen injured, including former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, southern Arizona is well on its way to healing.

There have been scores of church services, candle light vigils and other events to memorialize the tragedy, and now the city is poised to start work on a permanent memorial. In the wake of the shooting, a panel of community leaders, victims, artists and other affected Tucsonans gathered to work toward that goal.

Over the past three years, the January 8 Foundation has spend thousands of man hours finding out what the community wants and needs to heal. The permanent memorial will be a place for reflection in Downtown at El Presidio Park, a sprawling plaza that connects many of Tucson’s institutions of democracy, a theme that will be central to the memorial.

“It’s a place where people have been coming together, you might say, for centuries,” said Karen Christensen, president of the foundation’s board of directors.

This week, the city hosted four finalists who are vying for the chance to design the memorial, which will include an outdoor space behind the historic courthouse, possible indoor space in the courthouse and a memorial website with video oral histories of the survivors. During the visit, the finalists met with the public, government officials and survivors of the shooting.

Some of the mementos from University Medical Center.

Some of the mementos from University Medical Center.

“They’ll be coming back, probably in February or March. The final decision will probably be made in April or May,” Christensen said.

The architect chosen for the project will be tasked with redesigning the entire plaza to incorporate the January 8 memorial with existing features of the park, many of which honor war veterans and others who fell in defense of democracy. The finalists include:

* Ibarra Rosano Design Architects of Tucson. Their team includes Luis Ibarra, Teresa Rosano, Brad Lang and Janeth Vega-Flores, all University of Arizona graduates. Their work includes the Glendale CBD Master Plan: the Farm; and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art Border Film Project. Team member Brad Lang is also responsible for the Herberger Center and the Westin Phoenix Downtown Hotel while working for other firms, Gould Evans and SmithGroupJJR respectively.

* Logan Simpson Design of Tempe. This team includes Chad Atterbury, Jeremy Palmer and Jeff Lothner. Their work has included Civic Space Park in Phoenix; Centennial Plaza in Peoria; the Phoenix FBI Regional Field Office; and a North Grant Park renovation in Chicago.

The front lawn at University Medical Center was ruled out as a permanent memorial site, though many of these mementos will be included.

The front lawn at University Medical Center was ruled out as a permanent memorial site, though many of these mementos will be included.

* Chee Salette Architecture Office of Los Angeles; Bonn, Germany; and Tucson. Their team includes architect Marc Salette and landscape designer Tina Chee; artist and memorial designer Rebeca Mendez of Rebeca Mendez Design; lighting designer Wilfried Kramb of ag LICHT; and media consultant Jackie Kain. This team’s past projects include the Orange County Crime Victim Memorial in Irvine, Calif.; La Plaza Paseo in Los Angeles; the Cal Tech master plan in Pasadena, Calif.; and the exterior lighting in the renovated Fulda University Square in Fulda, Germany.

* HOK of Chicago, Ill. This team consists of Domenic Salpietra, a UA graduate, and Michelle Ohle. Their experience includes the Empire High School campus in Tucson; TMC master plan; Wit Valley master plan in Tianjiin, China; Central Barangaroo master plan in Sydney, Australia; University of Missouri Healthcare Healing Garden; Belmong Playground in Bronx, N.Y.; and Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield campus in Des Moines, Iowa.

Each finalist will get $5,000 to cover initial designs and up to $5,000 for travel to Tucson. Once their initial plans are completed, there will be a period of public comment.

The goal of the memorial isn’t just to honor the shooting victims. It’s also aimed at recognizing the theme Together We Thrive, which emerged as a rallying cry in the wake of the shootings. The project must also include a strong vein of democracy – something Giffords was honoring the day of the shooting.

Numerous sites were considered before the site selection panel settled on Downtown. The park is a perfect place to remember, said Mary Ellen Wooten of the Pima Arts Council, which has been central to the selection process.

“The memorial is really about creating a place where you can remember, where you can reflect,” she said.

The memorial will also incorporate some of the thousands of mementos, notes, candles, stuffed animals and other objects left at several sites in an outpouring of emotion after the shootings, which rocked the nation and sparked an international debate over gun control.

After the shooting, Giffords and her husband, retired Navy captain and former astronaut Mark Kelly launched the non-profit Americans for Sensible Solutions to seek gun controls that maintain gun-owners’ rights. Both are gun owners and shooting enthusiasts.

Memorial design finalists will now have eight weeks to develop concepts, after which they will return to Tucson to present them. After that comes a 30-day public comment period and a final selection.

The total cost of the memorial is expected to be $4 million, including an overhaul of the park, which is expected to cost up to half that amount.

For more information about the foundation and memorial plans, visit For more information about the finalists, see their websites:

* Chee Salette Architecture Office, Los Angeles, Bonn, Germany and Tucson.

* HOK, Chicago.

* Ibarra Rosano Design Architects, Tucson.

* Logan Simpson Design, Tempe.