The MIT community gathered April 29 to dedicate the Officer Sean Collier Memorial, a star-shaped granite structure that symbolizes the flavor of his life and his sacrifice. Collier, who was killed during the Boston Marathon bombing aftermath on April 18, 2013, is represented by an exceptional symbol of community—32 granite pieces that depend upon each other for strength and balance.
Watch the dedication webcast or view a video on the creation of the memorial titled Strength Through Unity: the Making of the Collier Memorial at MIT.
“Each stone is necessary to transfer loads and create equilibrium. The memorial represents the community coming together where strength comes from unity,” says architect J. Meejin Yoon, who designed the memorial. Yoon, head of the department of architecture, worked with a team of faculty, staff, and students, and international experts, including MIT Professor John Ochsendorf, a structural engineer and expert of masonry vaulting structures. The structure represents ancient stone techniques as well as advanced technologies such as a robotic milling process that produced pieces that are within a 0.5 millimeter tolerance of the digital model.
The oval void in the center of the vaulted structure represents the loss of MIT police officer Sean Collier, a 27-year-old MIT police officer. Collier has been lauded for his deep connection to the community. A MIT News article describes how, just two months before his death, he helped save the three-day-old daughter of Andrés Barriga MBA ’13 and his wife, Anita, who were living in campus housing. In 2014, 39 members of the MIT community ran the Boston Marathon as MIT Strong to honor Collier and raise money for the memorial. For his many contributions to the community, Collier was named an honorary member of the MIT Alumni Association at Technology Day in 2013.
In a letter to the community, MIT President L. Rafael Reif described him as “a young man with a wonderful spirit of kindness, service, curiosity and play, and an extraordinary ability to touch the hearts of everyone around him. Through the example of his life, and through our shared experience after his death, he taught us the power of community in ways that no one present at the time will ever forget.” Reif also noted that “it is fitting that we honor his sacrifice, celebrate his life and allow his spirit to lift our hearts and connect us with one another.”
Facts about the Collier Memorial:
- The memorial is located between the Stata Center and the Koch Institute, a few feet away from where Collier was killed.
- The 32 granite pieces weigh about 400,000 pounds.
- In an eight-hour process, the stones were set by masons through an intricate scaffolding sequence, until the compression of stone upon stone fully supported the structure.
- The fabrication involved sophisticated stone carving by computer-controlled saws and a robotic arm to create the complex curved geometry of the blocks.
- Rob Rogers, Sean Collier’s brother and project manager from Suffolk Construction, oversaw the construction of the memorial.