A year after a gunman opened fire in a lecture hall and killed five people before taking his own life, Northern Illinois University has unveiled plans to build a memorial garden on its DeKalb campus near the site of the tragedy.
The garden, just east of Cole Hall, will have a curved, peaceful walkway and five illuminated sections of cardinal red granite that will serve as a memorial to victims of the Feb. 14, 2008, shooting. Each of the five sections of granite will be 10 feet wide and 4½ feet high, and each will be engraved with the name of one of the five students killed. More than 20 trees will be planted at the site, and a sculpture will be commissioned for the garden.
"Memorial Garden will honor the memories of the five students we lost that day, while at the same time embracing the resolute Huskie spirit characterized by 'Forward, Together Forward,'" says Northern Illinois president John Peters.
The students lost their lives when former NIU student Steven Kazmierczak interrupted a geology class at Cole Hall and began firing. In addition to the fatalities, more than a dozen were wounded before Kazmierczak killed himself.
In the days after the tragedy, the university considered tearing down Cole Hall, but after soliciting input from students and others in the community, school officials decided to preserve and renovate the space. A $7.7 million building plan calls for the lecture hall where the shooting occurred to be converted to non-classroom use. Another lecture space in Cole Hall will be used again for that function after being renovated.
The project also calls for construction of a 500-capacity lecture hall elsewhere on campus to replace the classroom space no longer available in Cole Hall.
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