UMass Lowell unveils memorial proposals

08/02/2007
By Used with permission from the Lowell Sun Online.

By KATHLEEN DEELY
Sun Staff

LOWELL In the basement of Dugan Hall, a new slice of the city's skyline is being plotted.

Not by architects or planners, but by University of Massachusetts Lowell students for alumni who lost their lives in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

For weeks, students in James Coates' sculpture class have lingered over public art proposals to honor the seven alumni and close relatives who died in the tragedy. Yesterday the proposals were unveiled, and next month one will be selected to be built along the Riverwalk behind Leitch Hall on the North Campus.

A few family members of the attack victims stopped by the Dugan Gallery yesterday to catch a glimpse of the oasis they may visit in the future.

'It's a real healing step for families. That people are continuing to remember helps me, helps my family,' said Barbara Gowell of Methuen, whose husband, Douglas Gowell, died on United Airlines Flight 175.

The school meant a lot to her husband. It's where they met, and he started a fraternity on campus.

Along with Gowell, the memorial will remember Robert J. Hayes of Amesbury; Brian Kinney of Lowell; John Ogonowski of Dracut; Patrick Quigley, the husband of alumna Patricia Quigley; Billerica native Jessica Sachs, the daughter of two alumni; and Christopher Zarba, who took classes at the university for two years.

Having a monument nearby to celebrate the lives of their loved ones can help survivors cope, Gowell said.

'One of the challenging things about being from this area is that the site of the disaster is in New York. It will help to have a place to reflect, or else you feel somewhat disjointed emotionally,' she said.

The idea for the project came to student Andre Gorgenyi when he heard a friend talk about Kinney, the 29-year-old class of 1995 graduate, who died on Flight 175.

'I learned about Brian Kinney, what a great guy he was, and realized the connection between students and alumni needed to be rejuvenated. There is a link we have as a community,' said Gorgenyi.

With the zeal and precision of trained professionals, the group of 19-year-old and 20-something students created designs that will add to the city's public art collection and its environment.

The models include six-foot twin towers made of granite set on a red, white and blue pentagon platform, a Japanese tea garden with mosaic tiles and a dry river bed of rocks.

'We wanted it to be a place for quiet reflection. We didn't want something that was so in-your-face,' said student Amy Pineault, who created the tea garden with two classmates.

Another proposal would have the alumni's names engraved on stone benches, below a steel structure with a globe on top that will be illuminated at night. The piece includes a quote from Helen Keller: 'I do not want peace which passeth understanding. I want the understanding which bringeth peace.'

In early December, a committee will select one design from the six proposals. Committee member Patrick McCrary, Lowell National Historical Park superintendent played a key role in the development of the Oklahoma City memorial and was an adviser for the 9/11 memorial in Pennsylvania,

'This is a powerful location, the river is symbolic and there are many vistas of the North Campus,' said Paul Marion, UMass Lowell's community relations liaison. All of the alumni being memorialized studied at this campus.

There are three public art pieces on the UMass Lowell campus, but the 9/11 commemorative is the only one that will extend into the city.

Money for the project will come from both the student government and the university.

The 9/11 public art exhibit is on display until Dec. 11 at the Dugan Gallery, 883 Broadway St. (978) 934-3494.

Kathleen Deely's e-mail address is kdeely@lowellsun.com .