You’re Invited to Participate in Design Process for the January 8th Memorial

May 27, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 10.32.08 AMBy Cristina Manos

El Presidio Park in Downtown is getting a facelift, which includes redesigning the plaza as well as featuring a memorial to the January 8, 2011, community tragedy when Tucson grieved the deaths of six people, and prayed for the quick recovery of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 12 others who were injured.

Giffords did recover, and is an honorary co-chair, along with businessman Jim Click, Jr., for the “Together We Thrive” campaign, with hopes to raise $4 million for the Tucson January 8th Memorial Foundation. Click donated $100,000 earlier this year to start the campaign off right.

Tucson Pima Arts Council left no stone unturned to find a design firm who could and would do Tucson justice. The Arts Council assembled a team of panelists with expertise in any everything needed for this thoughtful design process. See a list of selected panelists at

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 10.31.52 AMThere were many requirements set forth by panelists for planners to consider. One of the main considerations for designers was to come up with a way to spread awareness so that Tucsonans know that the memorial belongs to the community as part of a shared experience. Planners needed to have sensitivity to the site within Tucson’s history and within Tucson’s wider context.

The 60 design firms who competed for the opportunity to design and integrate the memorial had to take everything about Tucson into consideration and figure out how to design a memorial which is unique and original, like Tucson, while showing true concern and sensitivity to community emotion and culture. More than 500 community comments were accepted as part of collaborative efforts that went into selecting a firm that was just right for Tucson.

On May 15, a design firm was selected. The Chee Salette Architecture Office (CSAO) will create a plan for El Presidio Plaza, along with input from the City of Tucson, Pima County officials, Rio Nuevo and other community partners, as well as consideration to ongoing public comments. The process for creating the final design will be a 12-month long endeavor.

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 10.31.28 AMCSAO is off to a good start, and Tucsonans can join in the collaborative efforts by submitting feedback to the Tucson January 8th Memorial Foundation, and stay informed about design progress.

With all of the thought and heartfelt emotion that went into preparing for the design process, the end goal is to leave Tucsonans feeling loved and included, and ensure that El Presidio Park is an eye pleasing, inviting, meeting space where community spirit and gratitude is always in the air.