Next April, five years after the Marathon bombings, city officials plan to unveil two stark monuments marking the location of the acts of terror on Boylston Street that ended the lives of three people and led to the deaths of two more, but also inspired heroism that saved many others.
Their latest proposal envisions two rough-hewn obelisks of some combination of granite, cobblestone, pavers, and bronze that would jut into the street on an extended sidewalk and rise about 17 feet over the sites of the twin blasts near the Boston Marathon finish line. Unlike standard obelisks, the pillars would twist and may feature simple sculptures at the top that represent the sacred.
“The message to me is this: You can bend me, but you can’t break me,” said Bill Campbell, whose 29-year-old daughter, Krystle, was killed that day in 2013 as she cheered for runners in front of Marathon Sports.
The markers, still conceptual but to be completed by next year’s Marathon, will precede a larger memorial to be erected by the anniversary of the attack in 2020, city officials said.
Later this month, they plan to seek proposals from potential consultants whose job it will be to solicit ideas from the public for about four months, convening town hall-style meetings and launching a digital outreach campaign. Ultimately, the consultant will work with survivors to select an artist who will draw on public input in designing the memorial.
City officials have yet to draft a budget for the markers or the larger memorial, but they’ve set aside as much as $150,000 to hire the consultant.
“These memorials will create a place for people to connect with each other, and to reflect,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said in a statement. “The result will be a testament to the spirit and resiliency of the people of Boston, and a way to honor those we have lost, and those who are still healing.”
He added: “We will never forget the events of April 15, 2013,” which killed five people and injured more than 260 others, including 17 who lost limbs.
The city’s selection process for an artist to design the markers on Boylston Street began about a year ago and included discussions with several “world-renowned artists,” city officials said.
The officials worked closely with the families of the five slain victims of the attack and its violent aftermath: Campbell, a restaurant manager from Medford; Lingzi Lu, a 23-year-old Boston University graduate student from China; Martin Richard, an 8-year-old third-grader from Dorchester; Sean Collier, a 27-year-old MIT police officer from Somerville; and Dennis Simmonds, a 28-year-old Boston police officer. Collier was killed three days after the attack when he was ambushed in Cambridge by the bombers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev; Simmonds died nearly a year after the attack from wounds he sustained during a gun battle with the Tsarnaevs in Watertown.
The families described their hopes for the markers, and the artists responded with concepts for their consideration. They eventually met with four of the artists, unanimously choosing Pablo Eduardo, a Bolivian exile who now lives in Gloucester.
Eduardo, who studied at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University and has worked for more than 20 years as a sculptor, may be best known in Boston for his 10-foot bronze sculpture of Mayor Kevin White in Faneuil Hall. His other work includes bronze busts in the Rhode Island State House, a sculpture of civil rights icon César Chávez at the University of Texas in Austin, and a range of public works throughout Bolivia.
Eduardo’s design for the two pillars on Boylston Street is likely to evolve over the coming months as he collaborates with the families and officials from the Boston Art Commission, city officials said.
“This is a huge honor,” he said in a telephone interview Saturday.
He said his proposed design is intended to be simple and elegant.
“It shows that while will never be the same, we are still here,” he said. “It’s meant to reflect our steadfastness.”
Relatives of the victims said they appreciated the designs of all the artists, but there was something that stood out about Eduardo’s vision.
“All of the artists who presented did so with thoughtfulness, and respect to all of us,” said Bill Richard, Martin’s father. “There was something about Pablo’s presentation that looked like it fit Boston’s landscape and would stand the test of time.”
In addition to the death of Martin, Richard’s daughter, Jane, lost a leg in the bombings and his wife was blinded in her right eye.
Richard, who also lost much of his hearing that day, said he felt the time was right for such a memorial, especially as memories fade about precisely where the attacks occurred.
“It’s part of history now,” he said. “We felt it made sense, if done respectfully.”
Richard said it remains unclear where the larger monument will be built, but he and other survivors said they expect it would likely find a home on Copley Square, perhaps replacing the aging fountain across from Trinity Church.
He also praised the city for insisting on a deliberative, unrushed approach to the memorials, and for deferring to the survivors’ wishes.
“Whatever happens at the larger site, it should stand as a testament to all those who were injured,” Richard said. “But it needs to be forward-looking, and it should be a message of hope.”
Manya Chylinski, who like many others suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression as a result of the bombings, said she hopes the larger monument commemorates the range of those wounded that day, including those with non-visible but persistent injuries.
“The monument will be the permanent memory of this event for the whole community,” said Chylinski, who also serves as chair of the survivor advisory panel of the Massachusetts Resiliency Center. “So it is important that we are inclusive, and thoughtful about creating it. As it is currently designed, I believe this process can do that.”
For Bill Campbell, the pain of losing his daughter hasn’t diminished over the years.
“I will always miss her,” Campbell said.
But he has taken solace in the outpouring of love and support from his neighbors and the surrounding community. His daughter has already been honored with the creation of a peace garden in her name in Medford Square and scholarships at the University of Massachusetts Boston, which she attended.
The memorials on Boylston Street, he hopes, will ultimately bring similar comfort to the families of the other victims and survivors.
“More than anything, I hope these memorials will show how people really came together that day,” he said. “That’s what we should always remember.”David Abel can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @davabel.