Sandy Hook Memorial Competition

Location: Newtown, Connecticut
Completed: Winter 2017

It’s not often that our Studio is able to engage in design competitions but when we saw this one we knew we had to submit. Our submission was called: Finding the Firefly: Healing through discovery and exploration at Sandy Hook Memorial Park.

The intense tragedy and loss from the events in Sandy Hook not only stole lives it robbed a community of the joy and innocence of childhood. We envisioned the Sandy Hook Memorial Park as a place of reflection and discovery inspired by one of the simplest joys of childhood: chasing fireflies. The presence of fireflies in nature is an indicator of a healthy ecosystem so we have adapted this concept to represent the regeneration and growth of a healing community.

During our study of the site we found it to encompass the ideal firefly habitat: standing water, woodland edge, tall grasses and decaying wood. Just as we want to provide the ideal conditions for the return of the firefly, we want the park to be a catalyst for healing: where all visitors can engage in their own unique way, finding a path to solace, hope and reverence. We envision the park as a place to be visited throughout the year with the Memorial Garden being a space of respect and reflection as well as discovery and joy.

The victims of the tragedy are memorialized in 26 luminescent domes radiating throughout three grass covered landforms. The glow of the firefly is captured in each dome encompassing the light and spirit of those lost. The domes have a smooth, tactile surface designed to be touched and engaged. The landforms also provide a space of adventure and play, to climb upon or rest under the dappled light and sound from the poplar trees. The focal point of the Memorial Garden is set within a naturalized and ecologically vibrant park. It is a peaceful, reflective yet joyful space that honors loved ones lost.