Oregon District 8/4 Memorial semifinalist: The Seed of Life

Designs from five artist teams are semifinalists for the 8/4 Memorial in tribute to the victims of the Oregon District tragedy that occurred August 4, 2019.

The five semifinalists were selected by a local panel of jurors after 39 artist teams submitted RFQs in a national call for entries in late 2022. The same panel of jurors will select a final design by Aug. 4.

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The completed memorial will be located in the plaza adjacent to the Trolley Stop, 530 E. Fifth St.

Here’s what you should know about the semifinalist The Seed of Life, in the words of the artists.

The Seed of Life

Team Members: Terry Welker, Jes McMillan, Sierra Leone, and James Pate

We are place-makers and peacemakers. To create a place of peace and healing, we must first heal the place. Rather simply placing an object in the existing setting, which has a number of problems, we’ve chosen to recreate the entire plaza within the existing site and install art.

Our urban design approach is predicated on using the researched design principles of the famous urban anthropologist William H. White, the author of The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, and the film he produced under the same title. Understanding that the site is a well-established part of the District DORA, we must balance the social and cultural conditions of the space with the need to design a quiet place of reflection.

These contrasting conditions can and should coexist as its daily function changes with time of day and night, and the days of the week over the course of the year. The Unity Bench, Unity Table and Pillars of Remembrance are located well back from the busy public sidewalk and Fifth Street, yet still open to active use during DORA events.

The Seed of Life memorial site is a 45-foot-wide placemaking design. Our team’s extensive individual and collective interdisciplinary expertise is being leveraged to create a place encompassing the highest artistic standards. The team will use a four-tiered design model that involves mosaic art, creative writing, architectural design, and community engagement to make this happen.

The first tier will incorporate a 36-foot-wide comfortable “Unity Bench,” a low six-foot diameter “Unity Table” with an embedded time capsule, a backdrop of three ginkgo trees, and a sacred geometry in the hardscape design.

The first tier of design includes nine metal vertical Pillars of Remembrance standing ornaments that memorialize the victims and our united memory of them. The victims’ names will be backlit and inscribed on the side of each pillar, along with accenting lights on the front top half of each pillar, representing each victim’s eternal life force. Each pillar will have individualized mosaics on the front and rear faces with input from the families. One side of all pillars will be lavender, and the other side will be light yellow, creating two different moving views as people walk by.

The illumination of the victims, survivors, Oregon District, City of Dayton, and supporters will be celebrated in a spirit-lifting original tribute Pillar of Remembrance Poem that will be placed next to the pillars. Behind the pillars will be three yellow Princeton Sentry Ginkgo trees. The existing wall attached to the landscaping and pillar area will be transformed into a mosaic Unity Bench. The ground space will be covered with mosaic art, including a few small monochromatic designs and a sacred geometry design.