I-35W Remembrance Garden

Designers: Oslund and Associates | City: Minneapolis, MN | Project Type: memorial
Date Visited: 10.12.12

Location: W River Pkwy & 11th Ave S Minneapolis, MN 55401
Size: 6,561 sq. ft
Official Opening Date: August 1, 2011

Directly across from Gold Medal Park on the bank of the Mississippi River lies the I-35 Remembrance Garden, a memorial to the victims of the August 1, 2007 I-35 bridge collapse.

Designed by Oslund and Associates, one of the design elements that stands out most is the memorial’s use of symbolism. The linear granite plaza that stretches along the Mississippi bank measures 81′ x 10′–the dimensions reference the date of the bridge collapse (8/1)–and features 13 steel I-beam and opaque glass columns engraved with the names of the 13 victims, as well as text written by their families, some in their native languages. The beams are illuminated at night with blue LED lights. Behind the columns sits a black granite wall inscribed with the names of the 171 survivors, over which a thin sheet of water flows (unfortunately, by the time I visited, the water had been turned off).

As for the selection of site materials, Oslund and Associates writes:

“The design intentionally incorporates a number of natural elements; stone, which symbolizes stability and immortality – Arborvitae trees which are symbols of strength and live for centuries – water, which has the ability to purify and regenerate – darkness and light, which signify the transition from tragedy into new life.”

There’s also an overlook that offers a view across the Mississippi River and the Stone Arch Bridge, which offers a nice area for quiet reflection away from the road.

What I found particularly neat was the incorporation of an interactive, educational element. As part of Minneapolis Public Radio’s initiative Sound Points, various public art works are accompanied with a sign that include instruction on how to “discover the stories behind our communities” through a self-guided tour. I scanned the QR Code at the Sound Point sign and it took me to a short interview with Tom Oslund, where he discussed the community involvement and design process behind the Remembrance Garden. I think it’s an amazing addition to the project, because oftentimes, if I stumble upon a designed landscape or art piece, there’s no explanation to the significance of that project; this way, people can be brought closer to their artistic and built environment.

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