Thirty-two intersecting granite blocks weighing five tons each are locked together as a bridge in the shape of an open hand with a void beneath, commemorating the loss, symbolizing the inner strength and outer welcoming energy of Officer Sean Collier and what he still means to the MIT campus, two years later.
"I wish fervently that it was just a feat of engineering that we were here to celebrate, but unfortunately there's more to it than that there is a very sad background. But I also think it affords the Institute the opportunity to make forward progress in the healing process," MIT Police Chief John DiFava said.
"Our goal here was to show the very best of MIT for Sean Collier. And our hope is that he would look at it and say wow that's something really cool," Professor John Ochsendorf sid.
This permanent memorial, designed by a team of MIT architects, sits at the corner of Vassar and Main Streets in Cambridge, evoking meaning with each curve.
"When you stand under the void under the dome, there's a circle, a window that looks straight out into that point," Meejin Yoon, a MIT architecture professor, said.
That point is a smaller granite block, viewed through two open hands, placed at the site where Collier was senselessly killed by the marathon bombing brothers.
Sean's own brother, Rob, who works for Suffolk Construction, came to the site each day as manager of the project.
"I definitely felt his presence. It was kind of tough the first week because it all happened right here," he said.
Etched in the memorial is an epitaph, which reads, "Live long like he would. Big hearts, big smiles, big service, all love," part of his brother Rob's eulogy after Sean's death.
"Every office has his picture, his name, and people would come by and say, Sean helped me out with this, and give me a hug and tell a story. So there was so much that I learned in my time and then it just kind of got easier," Rob said.
And on this day, it felt like the entire MIT community had joined Sean's family in celebrating his life.
The architect described the building of the memorial as an incredible dance between machine and man, a unique memorial at MIT.