It's a plan to completely re-design El Presidio Park and it's a process the design team says has been life changing. Now we are seeing their final plans for the first time.
"This is a unique opportunity," said Marc Salette, a principal of Chee Salette Architecture. "Not only to design a memorial to remember this tragedy but to do it in the context for re-imagining the heart of Tucson."
Chee Salette was chosen out of four finalists to create a master planned concept for El Presidio Park that will include a permanent memorial to the January 8th tragedy. The firm revealed its plans Friday.
The memorial to remember the six victims and 13 survivors of the January 8th shootings will sit directly west of the courthouse. A walkway will allow people to go from the city to the park but they also have the option to descend into the memorial as its walls gently rise around them.
"So that by the time you reach this part of the memorial, you're in space that's open to the sky surrounded by the wall but you can't see the park anymore, you can't be seen from the park and the noise of the park is distant," said Salette. "What you hear is the noise of the leaves and the water that are within the memorial."
A gunman opened fire on January 8, 2011 outside of the Safeway at Ina and Oracle, killing six people including Christina Taylor Green, John Roll, Gabe Zimmerman, Dorwan Stoddard, Dorothy Morris and Phyllis Schneck.
The walls of the memorial will include symbols that tell the history of Tucson on one level. The next level will have symbols that recognize the first responders from that day and each survivor and victim will have their own constellation of symbols, including former congressman Ron Barber, who was shot that day along with former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords who Barber later replaced in office.
"As I look at those symbols, the names, the trees, it will be a good remembrance that while that day was a terrible day, it didn't define us as a community," said Barber. "What we did afterwards really was who we are, which is a compassionate, caring community."
Other aspects of their plan within El Presidio Park include a sculpture garden, an amphitheater and a restored Clement fountain in the center.
Also announced Friday, an anonymous donor has pledged to match up to $50,000 in donations for the next 90 days for the memorial.
The January 8th Memorial Foundation says it needs $4 million to complete the master plan. A bond on the November ballot that included funds for the memorial failed, and now the foundation is relying on private donations. They are also looking into other funding options at the state and federal level.
To donate to the foundation or learn more information about the plan, click here.