MIT’s Collier Memorial – a labor of love

Mit's collier memorial - a labor of love
© Iwan Baan

When MIT’s new memorial to Sean Collier is unveiled on Wednesday, the Institute community will get its first close look at a remarkable new structure: 32 massive pieces of polished granite in the form of five radial walls and arches, converging at a keystone above an open space.

In a shape akin to an open hand, the memorial represents the many connections Collier built with the MIT community, as well as the sense of service he brought to his job. In person, the 190-ton memorial has a powerful physical presence — but also a sinuous form that yields a sense of light and openness.

Behind the memorial is a story of MIT administrators and faculty determined to create a fitting memorial for Collier, the MIT police officer killed in the line of duty on April 18, 2013.

The central contributors include an MIT architect who created the unique design; an MIT engineer and architectural historian who, along with his students, made sure the design would work; and a construction crew, featuring Collier’s brother as a project manager, that used exacting techniques to build the novel structure despite this winter’s record-setting snows.

All those elements were highlighted in an MIT event on Monday night that revealed new details of the memorial’s construction.

The Collier Memorial is “a place where we can all pause to reflect upon Sean and his service,” said J. Meejin Yoon, the professor of architecture, and head of the Department of Architecture, who designed the memorial, speaking to an audience of about 300 people in Room 10-250. []