Mayor Rybak Unveils New Plan for 35W Remembrance Garden
Survivors and families of victims of 2007 bridge collapse worked closely with architect on new plan for site across from Gold Medal Park
September 9, 2010 (Minneapolis) — Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak today unveiled a new plan for a memorial to the August 1, 2007 collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis. Mayor Rybak was joined by memorial architect Tom Oslund and families of victims and survivors of the bridge collapse.
They unveiled the plan in front of the site between West River Parkway and the Mississippi River bluff owned by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, where family members and survivors hope to locate the Remembrance Garden, pending approval of the Park Board. The prospective site of the Remembrance Garden is directly across West River Parkway from Gold Medal Park, which became a gathering place and de facto memorial site in the days and weeks immediately following the bridge collapse, and where the memorial was originally proposed to be sited.
The design unveiled today retains many of the features of the memorial first designed for Gold Medal Park, but differs from it in a number of ways: it is now linear in nature, rather than a circle within a square; the water feature has changed from a circular granite table to a linear water wall to complement the new context and design; and names of survivors and those who acted with heroism are now included, engraved on the face of the water feature.
"From the start, the Remembrance Garden has been driven by the vision and the values of those most affected by this tragedy," Mayor Rybak said. Survivors and the families and friends of those who lost loved ones have worked closely with a great architect to create an ongoing remembrance of a day that we should never forget."
Architect Tom Oslund, principal of Oslund and Associates of Minneapolis, the firm that designed the Remembrance Garden, explained the intent of the memorial: "The 35W Remembrance Garden provides a reconciliation of how the event — and how those who were lost, those who survived, and those who acted with heroism — are remembered; allowing us to mark a moment in time and create a place that allows us all to move forward."
Governor Tim Pawlenty, who was unable to attend the event, expressed his support of the plan for the Remembrance Garden in a statement: "The Remembrance Garden will provide an enduring way to remember loved ones who were lost in the tragic I-35W bridge collapse. With the support of survivors and families of the victims, the new location and design for the permanent memorial will ensure that those lost during this horrible tragedy will not be forgotten."
Family members of victims and survivors of the bridge collapse joined Mayor Rybak to express their support of the plan.
"This Remembrance Garden means a lot to me both personally and as a part of the community," said Bob Espeseth, brother-in-law of victim Paul Eickstadt of Mounds View, who was driving a delivery truck when the 35W bridge collapsed. "When we lost Paul, we lost a friend and the community lost a hard-working, nice guy. The 12 other people we lost were also souls of great purpose and significance. The loss was sudden and terrible; and for our families, heavy. In a moment, our lives changed forever.
"On that day, we witnessed selfless acts, where people risked their own lives to help others. In the days that followed, we experienced the kindness and strength of others, especially those who brought dignity and respect to the recovery mission. They are all truly heroes. The Remembrance Garden will be a place for the whole community to reflect on how very precious, and unpredictable, life is," Espeseth continued.
"I am so thankful to Mayor Rybak and the City for making the 35W Remembrance Garden a priority," added survivor Erica Gwillim of Minneapolis. "The memorial garden looks like it will be a landmark that will allow each of us who were affected by the bridge collapse to have a place to remember and grieve, but also to look at how far we have come in our healing process. It will also honor those no longer with us, those who should still be with us."
Mayor Rybak thanked two sets of people whose recent actions have helped move the Remembrance Garden project forward: first, members of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, Board Chair John Erwin and Interim Superintendent David Fisher, for their willingness to explore locating the memorial on Park land across from Gold Medal Park; second, the law firms that negotiated $1.5 million that will be dedicated to building and maintaining a memorial to the bridge collapse, as part of a recent settlement between their clients — survivors and families of victims of the bridge collapse — and URS Corp. Attorneys Chris Messerly and Philip Sieff of Robins, Kaplan, Miller and Ciresi and James Schwebel and Courtney Lawrence of Schwebel, Goetz and Sieben, who helped negotiate the memorial fund and settlement, attended the unveiling.
Mayor Rybak committed to building the Remembrance Garden within budget and including an endowment for ongoing maintenance, and to completing it in time for a formal dedication on August 1, 2011, the anniversary of the bridge collapse.
Renderings of the Remembrance Garden are available at /mayor/news/mayor_docs_35wremembrancegarden. Below are some of the Remembrance Garden’s design features of interest.
• The garden presents 13 I-beams which are illuminated during the evening. The names of the each of the people who lost their lives are engraved on opaque glass faces that cover the inside face of the I-beams.
• Also included in the garden is a water wall element that frames the walkway space as one of the memorial’s focal points.
• The I-beams line an 81’-long linear plaza space with the water wall incorporated to one side. The water wall is very quiet and incorporates a sheet flow of water over its polished surface, offering a visual and auditory meditative focal point to the space. Names of all individuals who were on the bridge that day will be engraved into the surface of the wall, along with an inspirational quote and a dedication.
• Benches bookend the linear plaza space, offering places to rest and contemplate the garden.
• A path leads from the fountain to the bluff edge, where an observation deck allows views of the river and the bridge through the trees.
• Dramatic lighting — from the I-beams, path lights and water wall — brings a soft glow to the space during the evening hours, for a more intimate and contemplative experience.
• The linear dimension of the space (81’) references the date of the bridge collapse — 8/1.
• The width of the space (13’) references the 13 people who lost their lives.
• The distance of the path to the overlook (65’) references the time of the collapse — 6:05 p.m.
Published Sep. 9, 2010