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Classmates Create New Campus Bench as Tribute to Fellow Architecture Student

A year-long effort by UC architecture students has resulted in a new campus bench to memorialize classmate Chris Walker, who died last year. The bench’s form and shape recall Walker’s class project underway at the time of his passing.

Date: 4/14/2014 12:00:00 AM
By: M.B. Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Provided

UC ingot   Five architecture seniors – along with others on campus – have worked for the past year to find a way to pay tribute to their classmate, Chris Walker, who died after being struck by an automobile in early 2013 during his junior year.
Bench project
Students working on the bench project.

Those efforts have now resulted in a new bench outside of the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP), a bench that recalls the form and shape of the project Walker was working on in an architectural design studio at the time of his passing.
Classmate Joyce Hanlon explains, “We were all stunned by losing Chris. It was not easy to go back to doing studio and homework. We thought a design and construction recalling his last project would be appropriate for remembering him and helping us heal.”
According to Chris’ mother, Mary Walker, the UC students’ work on the project has also helped the family to heal. She states, “The friendship his classmates have shown to our son is the best part of this project. They talked about initiating this project at his visitation and funeral, and then, they worked the whole year to see it to reality in order to honor Chris. It’s been part of our healing to be a part of this and to be able to be part of the college life that Chris was so immersed in.”
Evcavating for the bench.
UC student Joyce Hanlon helps with excavation in order to install a bench in tribute to fellow student Chris Walker, who died early last year.

The four other classmates most active in working with Hanlon on the project are Jillian Blakey, Rebecca Doughty, Matt Lamm and Philip Riazzi. Many others helped with the effort, including Len Thomas, UC senior landscape planner. In all, about 50 DAAP students and faculty were involved in making the bench become a reality.

States Lamm, "I could never have imagined to what degree this undertaking was going to inform my final year at the university. The overwhelming support from our faculty, fellow students, and Chris' family continues to inspire and amaze me. They have given so much to aid in this endeavor in a wide variety of forms from donating funds to showing up for what seemed like an eternity of digging a giant hole. What started as a knee-jerk reaction to make sense of an unfamiliar, massively disruptive and tragic experience has brought about deeper relationships, forged new friendships, and ultimately instilled an unimaginably powerful sense of solidarity throughout our community."
According to Hanlon, the effort to create the bench is a fitting end to the students’ senior year in that it represents their first construction project as students: "This project taught us about excavation, constructing formwork, tying rebar, and even pouring concrete.  The installation will be a lasting reminder of Chris, our time together at UC, and our collaborative work as a design team."
Pouring foundation.
Pouring of the foundation for the bench.

A dedication at the bench and site is set for 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 22. The dedication is free and open to the public.
  • See the blog related to the bench project.