Minnesota Medal of Honor
Project Type: Landscape Design
LHB participated in the Minnesota Medal of Honor (MOH) Memorial Design Competition to create the state’s first memorial to honor Minnesota recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
The proposed memorial site is the existing Promise of Youth reflecting pool on the south lawn of the Minnesota State Capitol grounds. The competition required that the Medal of Honor Memorial be incorporated within the footprint of this reflecting pool while retaining the Promise of Youth sculpture, a bronze water nymph set in lotus petals.
Through office-wide conversation, charrettes, historic research and technical review, our team was inspired by a quote from Robert F. Kennedy, “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
“Ripple of Hope” served as the inspiration and foundation for our design concept. Visitors are drawn into the middle of the site by the sound of rippling water and the visible and accessible Promise of Youth Sculpture. The new, circular basin surrounds the sculpture, so she appears to be rising from the shallow pool, creating the rippling surface. The basin wall features a portion of the Kennedy quote to tie the various elements of the memorial together while portraying the sculpture as a message of hope and inspiration for courageous acts.
A paving pattern of concentric rings reverberates outward from the central pool. Inlaid into the rings are bands of bronze tiles etched with the names and information of the 56 Minnesota MOH recipients. Among these tiles, set alone and centered on the axis of the space, is a single in-grade illuminated tile that holds space for the acts of heroism that could not be recognized with a medal and the acts of heroism yet to be accomplished.
The design offers multiple scales of gathering spaces. Two new polished concrete seat walls encircle the main space and form another ripple and encloses an assembly room. One wall is etched with a recipient’s partial citation that offers a sober reminder of the recipient’s challenges and heroism.
The subtle rise of earth beyond the walls creates the final ripple and offers informal, intimate seating with views of the sculpture and surrounding memorials. The landforms create tension by obscuring parts of the new memorial elements from the outside with angled orientation to the mall.
LHB’s design commemorates the gallantry of the individual recipients, while inviting visitors to contemplate their own character and the potential of their actions to impact their community and nation.