OTL Builds Poignant Water Feature Memorializing Sandy Hook Elementary School Victims at Nearby Park in Newtown, Connecticut

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The world was irrevocably altered on December 14, 2012, when 20 first-graders and six educators were killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. People near and far from the tragedy were filled with an overwhelming grief that had no outlet for proper expression.

In the fall of 2013, as everyone still grappled to make sense of the grim event, the town created a special commission to oversee the planning of a meaningful memorial that would honor those who had lost their lives that fateful day. While it took nearly 10 years for stakeholders to agree on the ideal site and attributes for this tribute, the project was at last completed at a park near the school, and on November 13, 2022, the memorial was opened to the public.


Working with project designer Fluidity and landscape architect SWA, OTL constructed a heartwarming water feature that would aptly honor the Sandy Hook victims. The team created a 50-foot-diameter raised-basin structure with water encircling an off-center interior 10-foot-diameter landscape area featuring a single planted Tree of Life, surrounded by flowers. The names of the 26 individual lives lost are engraved on the top of the capstone structure.

The memorial water feature’s recirculation system is designed to discharge water at the perimeter of the basin, enabling small-scale boats, candles and flowers placed by those visiting the memorial to engage with the structure. The discharge creates a light current of water that allows the objects to flow from the perimeter of the basin to the tree and vice versa when the circulation pattern is modified. The movement initiated by this memorial provides a means for adults and children to connect with those who were lost on that tragic day.


Completed close to the 10th anniversary of the shooting, the Sandy Hook Memorial fountain delivers a means of comfort and a sense of closure for the victims’ families and friends, the people of Newtown, and all who were affected by the events of that day. Designed as a place for peaceful contemplation, the water feature provides a way to remember the victims and reflect on those events for many decades to come.