Located on the MIT Campus near the intersection of Vassar and Main Streets, the Collier Memorial sits in quiet testimony to Officer Sean Collier, a fallen police officer killed on duty in 2013. Designed by Höweler + Yoon Architects, the memorial’s minimal form features five freestanding granite walls that are carved in such a way so as to form a void within the center to create a space for gathering and contemplation. The simple elegance of the stone walls and the spaces they generate also represent an impressive feat of stone masonry, modern engineering, and craftsmanship.
RBA’s challenge on the project was to marry this graceful form to the existing adjacent landscapes of the Stata and Koch Centers, and to help situate it over a very complicated subgrade. Care was taken to integrate new pavement with the old in order to feature the figure of the memorial within the preexisting paving geometries. For the groundplane, a new grey concrete paver was selected to match the stone walls and used to transition the cool tones of the granite back into the existing warmer toned pavers along the site’s perimeter. Roughhewn solid granite benches were provided from the same quarry as the stone walls and scattered across the site as places for informal seating. Honey locust trees were strategically placed to complement the memorial and to provide shade during the warmer months. In-ground LEDs were laid out to reflect the constellations of the night sky, while stainless steel skate stops were arranged in a braille pattern, layering on additional meaning.