Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Memorial finalists named

Monument will honor firefighters who died in 1999 fire

Martin Luttrell

WORCESTER- The woods behind the Grove Street fire station are overgrown with vines and poison ivy, littered with the food wrappers and beer cans from decades of squatters and drinking parties.

But amid the clutter remain reminders of a grander time for the peninsula that juts into Salisbury Pond: towering white pines, an American beech tree bearing initials carved so long ago they are stretched to the point of illegibility, concrete piers that once held benches looking out onto the pond.

The abandoned peninsula - part of Institute Park more than 50 years ago - will again be linked to the park when a memorial to six fallen firefighters is built there, with a footbridge over the pond to connect to the park.

Yesterday, the Worcester Fire Fighters Memorial Committee announced five finalists for the memorial, which will honor firefighters Paul A. Brotherton, Jeremiah M. Lucey and Joseph T. McGuirk, and Lts. Timothy P. Jackson, James F. "Jay" Lyons III and Thomas E. Spencer. They died in the Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. building fire on Dec. 3, 1999.

The finalists, all from Massachusetts, were selected from 158 submissions from around the country, said Michael J. Donoghue, president of the Worcester Fire Fighters Memorial National Design Competition.

"I think that every one of them, in their own way, presents an opportunity for the visitor to contemplate what happened on Dec. 3 and for the 10 days that followed," he said.

"They give the visitor an opportunity to reflect on the aftermath, the recovery of the bodies. It's an education."

The five finalists will visit the site on July 27, when they will be given more information and be allowed to ask questions of the committee, said Kenneth W. Paolini, consultant to the committee.

"I feel confident that we'll have a winner out of these five," he said. "I look forward to a second stage of competition of the highest quality."

All five designs include a bridge linking the memorial site to Institute Park, the names of the fallen firefighters and a description of the timeline of events that began at 6:13 p.m. when Box 1438 was struck for a fire at 266 Franklin St.

By 7:58 that night, orders were given to evacuate the building, with six firefighters unaccounted for and presumed dead, according to the timeline described by one finalist.

City Manager Michael V. O'Brien said that the inclusion of local community members in the design is essential.

"We carry this tragedy in our hearts day to day," he said. "Part of the healing process is for the community to participate. It brings us to a better place in our hearts. ... It is a fitting tribute to our fallen heroes."

The memorial will be built at a cost of $3 million to $5 million. Institute Park will also receive some improvements, and WPI is working with the city on a master plan for the park.

An 11-member jury selected the five finalists and will announce the winner on Sept. 27.

Fire Chief Gerard A. Dio said he wasn't sure what to expect at the start of the competition. "A big part of it is some recognition of the six individuals," he said. "We want something that brings the six to light.

"I like what we have here. The finalists will now expand on what they've done.

"... It was quite an experience going through the process. I was surprised we were able to come to a consensus. I believe we did well and got the best of the designs."

No family members of the fallen firefighters attended yesterday's press conference, Chief Dio said.

Drawings of the five final designs will be on display on the third floor of City Hall for the next three weeks, and will then be on display at the Worcester Public Library, Mr. Donoghue said.
Firefighter memorial finalists
Stephen Stimson Associates, Falmouth, has worked on national projects including university campuses, corporate headquarters, parks and private gardens. Currently doing work at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Harvard Biological Research Center and Harvard Science Center.
A terrace overlooking Salisbury Pond marked by a 60-foot-high monument and willow grove. Six polished rungs punctuate a thin slot in the monument, creating a shifting beam of light with the movement of the sun, illuminating six polished granite slabs engraved with the names of the firefighters.

Ben Smoot, Brookline, design degree from the University of Virginia. He works for William Rawn Associates architects in Boston and is involved in the design of a new federal courthouse in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Two reflecting pools, six stone piers and six glass columns. The stone columns will become beacons of light at night, illuminated by lights under the reflecting pools.

Benjamin Kou, Cambridge, bachelorís degree in art history from Clark University and masterís degree in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has worked on biotechnology buildings, high-end residential projects and is designing a marine institute for a higher education client in Rhode Island.
Six bronze and granite pillars, each representing a fallen firefighter, situated to represent his last known position at the time of the warehouse collapse.

Chuni Wang, Waltham, registered architect born in Taiwan who moved to the United States and received a masterís degree in architecture from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Six steel frames will rise out of the woods, wrapped in titanium panels that curve around and upward. In the setting sun they will appear to rise out of spiraling flame.

Gala Simon Associates Inc., Watertown, offers a broad range of construction design, civil engineering and landscape architectural services. Also provides consultation services for feasibility studies, land use planning, development planning, permitting and construction administration.
The primary memorial features six vertical elements leaning inward toward one another, symbolizing the strength and unity of the firefighters. The center circle will contain granular stone, concrete and brick from the Cold Storage site.
More info and photos on link below