HOPE MEMORIAL GARDEN
A new respectful Garden that connects a University campus community to a serene place of hope, reflection, and celebration.
Grief is already an isolating experience but losing a young college student or young friend due to illness or an accident is devastating. Students at the University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy Campus were grieving after fellow students passed away prematurely and unnecessarily. Their outpouring of emotion created a call for action, so they approached the school requesting a suitable sacred celebratory place to honor their present and former late classmates. With that heartfelt plea and during the University’s campus master plan development, the design team collaborated with the University, students, and parents to create the new “Hope Memorial Garden.”
Assessment of current campus monuments, gateways, and memorials throughout the public realm, led the team to propose a new home for all to reflect calmly and respectfully. The Garden’s final location is in a secluded corner of the University’s eight-acre campus, offering a unique contrast to the other well-trafficked pedestrian corridors. A superfluous wedge of lawn, shrubs, and trees would metamorphose into a small oasis. Quiet architectural facades protect the site on its south and east, while large trees provide dappled shade to the north, anchoring a diagonal walk that vacillates students from classroom to cafeteria.
The design team developed multiple concepts following collaborative design charrettes with those who suffered a personal loss. Each concept was vetted collectively for its framework, organization, materiality, and artful storytelling. The design needed to fit into the campus aesthetic yet feel distinct, notable, timeless, and elegant. The final design yields a form that is pure, concentric with materials that echo simplicity.
The existing site was home to several mature birch trees with significant root structures, which became a significant design element. The inclusion of these trees made this space special so these they were protected and root pruned by a certified arborist to defend against construction damage. Lawn and non-native shrub beds were retrofitted with specific woodland shrubs, forbs and herbaceous plantings that are known for their healing attributes and significance to the profession of pharmacy. Sustainable planting design removed the need for irrigation, relying heavily upon native plant communities by matching horticulture to its preferred growing conditions.
The final memorial comprises many custom elements including a central plaza, low arcing wall, a series of 4’ x 8’ glass memorial panels, and theatrical lighting design. Central to the small gathering plaza, a unit paver field hosts a solemn ipe wood bench. The custom detailing of wood, metal, and lighting are an artful gesture that signifies a place of special importance. Adjacent to the plaza, a battered stone wall embraces the user, providing an inviting pause. Mexican beach pebbles skirt along the face of the low-slung cast stone wall. The small rocks represent youth and individuality while the wall signifies the growth of wisdom and unity – a solid base of knowledge. Growing out of the base, reaching toward the sky, bright stately panels of frosted glass hold etched names, each with a personal quotation. Visible in the daytime, illuminated in the evening, these former students, friends, and children shine in brightness as a beacon of hope for all to see.
This new respectful Garden connects the campus community to a serene place of hope, reflection, and celebration of the lives of those students and dear friends who have prematurely lost their lives.
Click here to learn more about LJC’s broader role at The University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis.