Wolff Landscape Architecture, Inc.
Gold Star Families Memorial and Park; The Museum Campus of Burnham Park in Chicago
Client: The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation
Consultants: David Woodhouse Architects, Graf/X Communication Group, Inc., Delta Fountains, Charter Sills, Fisher + Partners, Milhouse Engineering and Construction, Inc., Weber Consultants, Ltd.
Located on a five-acre site in Burnham Park, Gold Star Families Memorial and Park honors more than 520 Chicago police officers killed in the line of duty. The client's goal was to build the finest law enforcement officers' memorial in the country memorializing both how officers died but also communicating how they lived. The memorial is part of the surrounding park and welcomes families, friends and colleagues of the slain police officers as well as the general public.
Both the site and its context influenced the memorial design. First, it was important to maintain views of the downtown skyline, in order to maintain the sense of place in downtown Chicago. Second, it was important to respect the presence of Soldier Field, a memorial to the men and women of the armed services. Third, it was important that the memorial, located within Burnham Park, be integrated with the park, not separated from it.
Four principal design elements are connected and unified by a curved gravel park walkway. Circular entries marked by a pair of stainless steel pylons are filled with Whitespire birch creating a canopy overhead. Brick circles defined by a bench on one side and a low wall on the other with a relevant quote regarding core values of service, family, courage and honor symbolize how fallen officers lived their lives. A central gathering space at the center of the Memorial is programmed to accommodate special events, such as the annual St. Jude's Day candlelight vigil and a Father's Day memorial. Curving concrete walls spiral out from the central circular space to create a "sacrifice space" for emotional and spiritual reflection.