Classes of '68, '03 underwrite new Texas A&M
student-designed Freedom from Terror Memorial


An Oct. 18 dedication has been scheduled for the student-designed Texas A&M University Freedom From Terror Memorial, a gift from the university’s classes of ’68 and ’03. The award winning design for the memorial was chosen from 27 entries in a 2006 college-wide competition that was also sponsored by the former students.
“It’s going to be a tight schedule,” said Elton Abbott, assistant dean for special projects for the College of Architecture. “The dedication will be the same day as the Aggies’ football game against Texas Tech.”

The memorial will be built next to the campus central utility plant at the corner of Coke and Lubbock streets from a design by Jorge Martinez, David McMillin, Hernan Molina, and Mariano Ortiz, all of whom were graduate students in architecture at Texas A&M and have since graduated.

Quad-Tex Construction, Inc. and Patterson Architects of Bryan were selected for the construction phase of the project, which began March 24.

The Texas A&M classes of ’68 and ’03 conceived of the memorial as a way to honor Aggies who gave their lives in the effort to combat terrorism, as well as those living who guard and protect the United States from terrorist attacks.

“I can come to school and learn to do architecture while other people are protecting our freedoms,” said David McMillin, one of the team of four designers who submitted the winning proposal, of his motivation for entering the contest when it was announced in 2006.

“We wanted to give back in that regard and also give back to the university,” said McMillin. “It’s was once-in-a-lifetime experience, to do a competition for the Texas A&M campus. It was an opportunity to leave something behind on campus that we’re proud of and will be there forever.”

The winning design started off with lots of discussions among McMillin and his fellow designers.

“We wanted some sort of remembrance to soldiers and protectors and how it relates to Texas A&M,” he said. “We wanted something that was permanent, so we thought of concrete,” he said. Their design features a 22-foot concrete wall with a gap close to one side.
“The wall is incomplete, like it’s missing something,” said McMillin. “We wanted to show that part of your police, part of your people dedicated to protecting your freedom have passed away.”
The memorial also features three rows of 12 box-like shapes leading to the wall, which represent people who are involved in the battle against terrorism.

“There’s a horizontal plane that is sunken into the ground with these three (rows), where at one time we had four. We were thinking about a field, and how soldiers might be lined up in regiments, standing at attention, paying respect to something, in this case, paying respect to what this wall is representing,” he said.

“We kept talking, discussing, and developing, and it kept getting closer to what we were thinking about. The field of boxes was then cut down to 12 in a row because of the 12th Man spirit at Texas A&M,” said McMillin. Then the team removed a row of boxes from the design, creating a gap, which they lined up with the gap in the wall.

The designers were also considering what the memorial would look like at night.

“In place of the row of boxes we took away, we added light fixtures. During the daytime it looks sort of off balance, off center, like a missing person formation,” said McMillin. “At night, the lights illuminate where those boxes would have been and it completes the array as a symbol of hope that we can get out of this, and that freedom will emerge. The slot in the wall also has lights that represent the idea of the wall healing itself, giving hope that freedom will prevail.”

McMillin said there was a reflecting pool at one point of the design process.

“The university requires a $500,000 endowment for maintenance on fountains so that went out real quick because the sponsoring classes weren’t going to be able to come up with that amount of money to give as a maintenance fund,” he said.

“Then we started thinking of other materials to replace the water,” he said, and after some discussion crushed glass was  chosen. “The last material we talked about with the sponsoring classes’ representatives was recycled, crushed glass that could still be illuminated with the lights that we wanted to use. The colors that we proposed would be blue, or amber yellow.”

After selected as one of three finalists, McMillin and his team had a couple of weeks to refine the design, make a model and posters of their entry and prepare a presentation.

The final presentations were made in front of a jury and a university-wide audience in the College of Architecture’s Preston Geren Auditorium.

“I’d never presented in front of a crowd that big,” said McMillin. “Usually in school you present in front of the faculty and the rest of your classmates and maybe some guests, but there were people who had no architectural background at all who were interested in the project, as well as architecture professors and practicing architects.”

The team explained its design to the jury and the crowd.

“We were trying to show the emotional connection between those who serve the country, how that involves other branches of the state and federal government and the military, and how all those things relate to Texas A&M University,” said McMillin.


“We tried to present (the memorial concept) in an architectural way, while keeping nonarchitectural people in mind, showing them there was an emotional connection between the symbolism we were using and the 12th Man Aggie spirit, people that have gone missing, and people that are still brave enough to continue fighting on,” he said.

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A rendition shows the Freedom From Terror memorial, which has entered the construction phase on campus at the corner of Coke and Lubbock streets. The memorial was designed by graduate students at the Texas A&M University College of Architecture.

A nighttime rendition shows the design and its lighting scheme.

Please click on images for slideshow

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