Tucson's January 8th Memorial
On January 8, 2011 a shooting occurred at a “Congress on your Corner” event in Tucson, AZ. It was a Saturday morning. Six people were killed and thirteen wounded, including U.S. Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, while participating in a fundamental act of democracy.
An international competition was held to design a memorial to remember the tragic events of January 8th – and the coming together of the community in response.
The design team headed by the Chee Salette Architecture Office in LA was selected. There were five of us: Marc Salette (principal architect), Tina Chee (landscape architect), Rebeca Méndez (art & design), Wilfried Kramb (lighting), and me, Jackie Kain (history & community).
My specific responsibilities were community outreach which included stakeholder meetings & public forums and research on the history of the region with the goal of grounding the events of January 8th within a larger historical and cultural context.
Work began in the Fall of 2015. The Memorial was completed in 2021.
Our vision: The Memorial is integrated within the landscape of El Presidio Park in downtown Tucson, directly in front of the Old Pima County Courthouse.
The outer Memorial is a Living Wall of desert plants and rocks reflecting the colors of the Southwest, an earthen frame for the Courthouse. The inner Memorial offers a space of discovery and reflection.
The Memorial uses symbols, inspired by the petroglyphs found throughout the southwest, to tell the stories of January 8th, 2011, the victims and survivors, and the coming together of the community. These symbols can be found on the inner wall of the Memorial.
On the exterior path in the gardens encircling the Memorial are 32 history symbols – evoking the complex and intertwined stories of the region. The first symbol represents the Santa Cruz River. To quote Tom Sheridan in Los Tucsonenses: “Wherever it reached the light of day, oases of human settlement occurred – Hohokam, Piman, Sonoran, and finally Anglo. Man, animal and plant alike depended upon the water of the Santa Cruz to keep the desert at bay.” The history symbols appear atop 32 light fixtures.
The Memorial is a gateway, a bridge, to El Presidio Park, envisioned as a vibrant cultural, historic and civic space, an everyday park where all may engage and exercise their most basic fundamental civil rights.