Making A Place For A Memorial

This memorial honors Marylanders who died on Sept. 11, 2001.

Acting as a framework to guide visitors through the memorial, well-designed circulation creates an opportunity for visitors to interact and connect with the space–focusing attention on specific design elements.

Contemplative Pathways

In Baltimore, the Pope John Paul II memorial garden’s pathways guide visitors along a high wall bearing inscriptions of quotations from the pope and some of his prayers. A larger-than-life statue of the pope on a marble pedestal is the focal point of the garden.

Designed to inspire civic pride, the city of Newport News’ Martin Luther King, Jr., Garden in Virginia was planned as a catalyst for economic development in the surrounding neighborhood. Located along one of the historic corridors, the park is dedicated to King’s life and legacy.

Community members may pass through or visit this space during lunch or in the evenings. A nationally acclaimed sculptor created the centerpiece of the park–a bronze bas relief of King and other marchers carved into the park’s monument wall. A linear thread of bluestone paving begins at King’s foot and extends out toward the city to signify the continuous journey that carries his message of civil rights and equality.

A key element of the King sculpture is its accessibility; the likeness is approachable on a human scale, not as an overblown figure. His face is the only one recognizable in the sculpture that is the cornerstone of this garden. Using various materials to symbolize King’s marches and the “rough road” he walked, visitors interact with the space simply by walking through.

Subtle, Layered Interaction

Careful selection of plant species, materials, inscriptions, and other elements add layers of interest to a memorial. How the landscape changes through the seasons–obscuring or revealing certain design elements, or choosing elements with multiple purposes–adds layers of meaning for the visitor to keep the experience fresh over time.

Separated by the “Ribbon Walk,” Pierce’s Park includes two non-traditional playground spaces for city children. One area attracts older children to an unstructured play area that includes landscaped berms, and an open green with a custom, interactive sculpture. The other area is designed for younger children, and contains a living ”willow tunnel” and two additional interactive sculptures.

The fence around the second play area provides peace of mind for parents as well as engaging children as the fence produces musical sounds when tapped. Benches provide rest areas for parents, tourists, and visitors. Plant selections speak to the park’s harbor-side location, and create a natural setting within the urban context.

The manner in which a memorial incorporates community involvement, spatial relationships, and subtle layered interaction of specific elements enhances the meaning for visitors. Incorporating guidance and design elements from healing gardens and urban parks, a memorial becomes a place of healing, nurturing, and relaxation.

Mahan Rykiel Vice-President Scott Rykiel notes, “Whether the space is a park, garden or plaza, utilizing the landscape as part of the memorial creates rich design opportunities to create a memorable experience.”

Carrie Ann Miller is the Business Development Director for Mahan Rykiel Associates, a landscape architecture, urban design and planning firm, headquartered in Baltimore, Md.


Design Honors Marylanders Lost On Sept 11, 2001

Few things stir more emotion than the memory of September 11, 2001, so creating a memorial in Baltimore, Md., to honor those who lost their lives on that fateful day is no easy task.

With Ziger/Snead Architects taking the design lead, Mahan Rykiel Landscape Architects helped to site the final memorial design which, includes a piece of mangled steel from the north tower of New York’s World Trade Center.

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