HonorING THE PAST, CElebrating the present
The Regional Law Enforcement Memorial Garden honors and celebrates the men and women who have laid down their lives in the line of duty. Located at the Regional Police Academy, the garden is envisioned as a sequence of ever-changing spaces that tell the stories of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, as well as to honor past and current officers and their families, who make daily sacrifices to serve and protect.
The individual spaces in the garden create experiences that change through the seasons and over time, ranging from quiet contemplation and intimate scales to grand and celebratory spaces. These spaces are woven into the natural settings of the site: from the high bluff overlooking the Academy and the forests of the Northland, to the forest grove, through the native prairie. The project is designed to be accessible and open to all.
Experiencing the Garden
The Entry Experience
Visitors begin their journey at an entry courtyard paved with granite bricks engraved with memory statements and donor names. The entry courtyard leads to a wall with a large gateway. Entering through the gateway between this wall, visitors begin a slow descent on a path through a wooded forest landscape. To the left one sees glimpses of the prairie and the Academy through the trees. To the right, a solid wall begins to grow out of the ground as one moves further down the path.
As visitors enter the Forest Room, this wall transforms into a tall granite memorial with the names of the fallen etched on its surface. The room is nestled into the hillside, high on a bluff that overlooks the surrounding area. The room is surrounded by trees and dense plantings and is shaded by an overhead steel canopy. Memorial statements are cut through the steel canopy, so that the sun shines through the canopy to write the words on the ground. As the day progresses, the play of light and shadow moves through the space, creating an ever-changing experience. The forest room is a quiet and solemn space with wood and stone benches for reflection and contemplation. Opposite the memorial wall, a filtered view of the prairie, bowl, and Academy are seen through the trees.
Leaving the forest room, visitors gently descend through the trees towards an open meadow, as the memorial wall folds back into the ground along the path. After the shaded space of the Forest Room, the meadow is a bright and expansive place with views to the treed slopes to the south. Along the meadow path are benches and places for art. Along the edges of the meadow are spaces for picnic tables. The path encircles the meadow and then begins to descent through the site as it moves towards the Academy.
This path is surrounded by prairie plants and flanked by trees, creating a natural park setting. The destination is the lowest place on the site, an earth bowl shaped to create a low wetland and reflection space. The path and prairie plantings flow down into this bowl, the edges of which obscure most views except for those up to the sky and the bluff, where the memorial wall is visible through the trees. The American Flag, set atop the hill, flies above the entire site. In the bowl, metal walls are inscribed with additional memorials and stories about the law enforcement community.
After experiencing the sequence of memorial spaces in the garden, they may continue on the path to the Academy, or return the way they came to the entry courtyard.