Cornell Student Memorial

Ithaca, New York

In 2009 and 2010, Cornell University experienced a number of tragic student deaths which prompted the consideration of a student memorial. Site selection was important on this busy academic campus. The ideal location would offer the opportunity for quiet contemplation without being relegated to a lonely part of the campus. After assessing the aural conditions in a number or areas, I chose the site depicted above. This sheltered and unusually quiet pocket of centrally-located ground lies adjacent to two recognizable Cornell landmarks; McGraw Tower and Sage Chapel. Trees, birds, bells, and chapel choir all combine to create a pleasant atmosphere well-suited to this memorial.

The central campus location is well-traveled, yet peaceful. Pedestrian crossroads are close to wheelchair accessible parking, the campus bookstore, a cafeteria, Ho Plaza, and the Arts Quad.

Aural Quality
Day Hall almost completely eliminates traffic noise from East Avenue. Memorial site noise levels averaged between 42-43 dB, lower than all other outdoor areas tested on campus.

Hourly bells from McGraw tower and weekly choir practice in the adjacent Sage Chapel produce a fitting aural backdrop to the memorial.

The Memorial Wall
The act of touching a name, pushing a prayer note into a crack in a wall, or stacking a stone is driven by an inherent need to connect with a loved one or a higher power. The Cornell Student Memorial will encourage such expressions. The monument will be constructed of an irregular pattern of rough-hewn granite, giving the appearance of a stacked stone wall. A continuously illuminated glass centerpiece will serve as an eternal flame. Gaps in the wall will offer a place to leave a note, insert a flower, or attach some other remembrance. Engraved memorial stones will protrude 2 to 3 inches, creating individual shelves to allow the placement of candles or other personal items. A polished wooden seat will follow the curve of the opposing wall, providing visitors with a comfortable sense of enclosure

Model constructed in AutoCAD and 3D Studio Max. Rendered with Mental Ray and Photoshop.