On December 4, 2016, the University of Arizona will hold a special ceremony dedicating a new memorial on our campus honoring the 1,177 sailors and Marines who lost their lives onboard the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor. This memorial has been made possible through tremendous amounts of community and UA administrative support, as well as through the dedication, energy, and design expertise of Chuck Albanese, FAIA and Dean Emeritus of the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture.
"It has been an honor to work on the creation of the memorial to the USS Arizona on the campus of the University of Arizona. The concept, was developed by David Carter, and inspired by the personal family loss and growing up experience of Bill Westcott, who’s uncle is still on the ship. These gentlemen motivated me to collaborate with them and do everything possible to make it happen. Navigating through the university bureaucracy and cultivating enthusiasm among senior administrators was my primary responsibility as well as providing design assistance. Eventual approval was made with the stipulation that our team of three had to raise the funds ourselves and understandably, not use any public funding. After three years of work and a lot of help with fundraising we met the necessary goals and construction began in early August,” states Albanese.
Alumni Ben and Nancy Cole (B.Arch ‘92) and Yasser Malaika (B.Arch ‘98) were integral to this project. They have been developing computer models, designing video animations, and creating visual communication tools for both the website and social media platforms about project plans and fundraising for the memorial. These tools were extremely effective in communicating the impact of the project, as well as convincing administrative leadership at the UA to allow the team to proceed. Bob Smith AIA, VP for University Planning, Design & Operations at the UA, and CAPLA alumnus (B.Arch ‘76) has been equally important to the success of the project as he communicated and supported the project in meetings with senior administrators.
The project team has partnered with the USS Arizona Reunion Association and other veteran organizations to highlight that this project will be a fitting expression of the sacrifice made by young men and women during and since WWII. It intends to be a meaningful honor to a quickly dwindling group of special veterans.
The centerpiece of the full-scale outline of the ship, flush with the lawns and walkways of the University Mall, is a plaza defined by low walls that display 1,177 individual bronze medallions, each engraved with the name, rank, assignment, birth date, and home state for each of the sailors and Marines that were lost nearly 75 years ago on board the USS Arizona. A quick glance at the birth dates reveals that nearly 70% of the sailors and marines were only 20 years old when they perished onboard the ship, very close to the average age of most university students. Seeing all of these medallions in a single view dramatically reinforces the knowledge of all that was lost in a single moment. The original bell, from the foremast of the USS Arizona, has been part of UA tradition for decades. It overlooks the new memorial from the 4th level of the student union. The bell will continue to be rung on occasions that mark national holidays honoring men and women who have served their country. Now, a flag pole will stand in the memorial at the very spot where the bell would have stood on the ship.
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