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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2007 / 06 

University announces plans for intermediate and permanent memorial to honor victims of April 16 tragedy

June 7, 2007

Architect's rendering of the intermediate memorial
Architect's rendering of the intermediate memorial

Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger announced today plans for an "intermediate" memorial to replace the temporary version placed immediately after April 16 by the student group, Hokies United. It will be in the same location.

The intermediate memorial will reflect the arc contained in the ad hoc version, with 32 substantial engraved Hokie Stones in a semi-circle in front of the Drillfield viewing stand near Burruss Hall. "The university community, and particularly the students, has become attached to this location. It seems only appropriate that we continue this tradition with something more substantive while we begin the process of looking elsewhere on campus for a permanent and fitting memorial to honor the memory and lives of our fallen students and faculty," said Steger.

The memorial will consist of small upright Hokie Stones etched with the names of each deceased victim, embedded in an arc of crushed gravel, and surrounded by a walking path for viewing. Construction will begin immediately, include some materials donated by generous individuals and companies, and is expected to be completed before students return for Fall Semester. It will remain in place until a permanent memorial is erected elsewhere. The stones from the temporary memorial will be offered to the families after completion of the intermediate memorial.

The committee, chaired by Vice President of Alumni Relations Tom Tillar, was composed of two faculty, one board member, four students, an alumnus, and two staff members. The committee looked at "every possible option for location and design" and felt a simple but more refined version of the student's original design in the same location "will most help the healing as we proceed with the next step."

The next step is formation of another representative committee with broad input from stakeholders to advise the university on design and construction of a permanent memorial several years in the future. The current committee is not recommending a style or configuration, but did suggest the location be west of the Drillfield in the plain between Davidson and Price Halls. "This is a prominent position and a place of honor immediately opposite the Memorial Chapel with its Pylons that honor Virginia Tech war dead. The memorials will symbolically anchor either end of the Drillfield, another hallowed location on this campus," said Tillar.

Tillar notes that the preferred site will be highly visible from the Drillfield and along a major access road (West Campus Drive), accessible, near parking, and adjacent to the primary university "park"--the Duck Pond area.

President Steger will, over the next several months, evaluate the next best steps including the possibility of a juried design competition or the use of students or alumni architects. It is expected that this process will require at least three years before a memorial could be built.