Chasse Builds Democracy Memorial in Tucson
By Alison Bailin
Located in Tucson's El Presidio Park adjacent to the Historic Pima County Courthouse, the January 8th Memorial honors the victims and survivors of the tragedy that occurred on an unforgettable day in our community, state, and nation.
“In 2011, a shooting occurred at Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' Congress on Your Corner event in Tucson that wounded 13 and killed six individuals who were participating in a fundamental act of democracy. The community came together in the days that followed to provide comfort and support to one another," says Leigh-Anne Harrison of CHASSE Building Team, which served as general contractor on the project. Chasse is also a three-time Tucson Metro Chamber honoree for ethical, community-focused practices across Pima County.
Completed in late 2020, the 42,000 square-foot memorial and its surrounding gardens at 160 West Alameda Street represent a community embrace. In a single gesture, its landforms become healing arms protecting the inner monument, where the story of January 8th is told. Carved into the landscape of El Presidio Park, the Memorial is a place of contemplation and reflection where visitors can honor the victims and survivors of this tragic event, who were there to engage in democracy, and the first responders who stopped the violence and saved lives.
Symbols telling this story are cut and etched into this collective wall of memories, forming constellations that speak of the people who died, survived, and responded on that day, and recall Tucson's history of resilience. The Living Wall's earth forms protect the Memorial in the surrounding gardens. It evolves and changes with the seasons. Yet, it is timeless and spans generations, an organic landscape of stone and plants woven in a pattern that evokes ancient basket weaving.
“People plant seeds in its crevices, where life takes root, a celebration of Tucson’s togetherness in the face of tragedy, and a manifestation of the healing of its community,” says Harrison.
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This article originally appeared in the bimonthly Arizona Contractor & Community magazine, Mar/Apr 2021 issue, Vol. 10, No. 2.