Memorial honors alumnus

Members of the University community are joining together to celebrate the life of alumnus Blair Phillips, a 2011 School of Architecture graduate who died Jan. 19 in a skiing accident, with the creation of a memorial celebrating his enthusiasm, talent and warmth.

The exhibit, now on display in Campbell Hall at the School of Architecture, contains hanging letters from friends and family alongside a photo slideshow and a poster.

“The letters are coming in daily, and I look forward to seeing how it expands over the next few weeks,” close friend and Architecture alumna Sara Harper said.

Harper, along with four of Phillips’ classmates from the Architecture Class of 2011, helped design the memorial the weekend they learned about the accident.

Phillips, 24, died on Jan. 19 after an unexpected stroke resulting from a skiing accident in Vail, Co.

Architecture Professor Earl Mark, who both taught Blair in a seminar setting and acted as his academic advisor, said he sees the memorial as a worthy testament to a student he deeply respected.

“It was lovingly put together by his close friends,” Mark said. “They really thought very carefully about how to make it reflect what they felt for [him.] There’s a modesty and simplicity [there] that really reflects Blair.”

In addition to the memorial, those close to Phillips are working to create the Blair Phillips Memorial Fund, which will grant two scholarships a year. One will be awarded to an Architecture student, while the other will be given to a member of the Academical Village People, a University a cappella group.

Phillips, who was extremely passionate about both architecture and music, served as AVP’s music director as a fourth-year student and was in charge of arranging all of the group’s music.

“Blair was certainly one of the most talented musicians that group has seen,” fellow AVP member John Buttram said. “Every couple of years, someone comes through who has a way of thinking about music and arranging music that is so far beyond my [and] everyone else’s understanding. That was Blair.”

Though Buttram, who was also one of Phillips’ roommates, said he hasn’t been able to see the memorial firsthand, he expressed a deep regard for what it says about his friend.

“The memorial itself — the fact that it exists — is because there were people who were willing to go out of their way and give back what Blair was willing to give on a day-to-day basis,” Buttram said.

The letters from the memorial will eventually be packaged into a book and given as a gift to the Phillips family.

Correction: A previous version of this article said Phillips died in Vail, Co. While the accident occurred in Vail, Phillips died in Virginia.

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