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2013 Award of Merit - National Missing Children’s Memorial
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Project Category: Conceptual

Project Name: National Missing Children’s Memorial

Project Location: Orlando, FL 34787

Landscape Architect:  Max Spann, ASLA, studio JEFRË

The goal of The Memorial Sculpture Garden For Missing Children project aims to recognize all missing, abused, or neglected children in our society in honor of Caylee. Her story with its national tremendous impact will continue to live on in the local community as well as in the hearts of people all over the world. With visitors paying their respect at the site, the objective is to preserve the area in a way that highlights the innocence and precious nature of the site and all of the children while creating an environment promoting closure, peace, and spiritual recovery. The Memorial will create an organized solution to manage the thousands of stuffed animals, flowers, and notes left on site. A sequence of emotional environments that lead visitors to the area where Caylee was discovered will create awareness of over 300 missing children in Florida. This Memorial Project will act as a voice for all of these children. Caylee's story in particular has caught the attention and emotion of many worldwide. The design serves as an integral tool to capture that attention and emotion and redirect it in order to move forward in a positive manner for all children left without a voice.

DESIGN: It was the understanding that Caylee's favorite character was Winnie the Pooh. Inspiration for the design was found in the context of the Winnie the Pooh story. Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin would adventure in a wooded area of London called Ashdown Forest, known as "Hundred Aker Woods". Hundred Aker Woods is the fictional land inhabited by Winnie the Pooh and his friends in the series of children's stories, Winnie the Pooh, written by author A. A. Milne. The young boy Christopher Robin accompanies Pooh and his friends on regular visits to the wooded area during many make-believe adventures. During these adventures places such as Poohsticks Bridge, Big Stones and Rox And Stream and Six Pine Trees were visited. The natural amenities of the memorial site created an opportunity to mimic and integrate the sequence of environmental spaces as seen in the woods of Winnie the Pooh.

Upon arrival, visitors will be enter the memorial walkway. The walkway contains a personalized brick plaza and concrete wall to provide a safe barrier between visitors and existing wetland. It allows for visitors to leave stuffed animals and flowers onto a rail system along a wall that protects these gifts from floodwaters. The goal is to work with local children's organizations and churches to collect the keepsakes and deliver them to children in need.

The memorial walkway and wall guide people to the memorial garden and across "Poohsticks Bridge". The bridge and memorial boardwalk serve as public message board. It is composed of metal panels for visitors to place private notes attached by magnets, cubbyholes for stuff animals and punched holes for flowers. Within the collage of personal displays of affection are circular glass disks that contain names of over 300 missing children in Florida. With the prevalence of social media, the discs contain interactive quick response bar codes (QR Codes) that allow visitors to acquire information on the missing child via smart phone and link to a National Database for Missing and Exploited Children. These discs are illuminated at night as a symbol for when neighborhood porch lights are left on as a beacon for children to come home. When a child returns home their light will turn off.

Upon crossing the boardwalk visitors arrive at the center platform of six pines trees, a common gathering spot for Winnie the Pooh and friends. The center of the platform is cut out at the location of where Caylee was discovered and preserved as a reflection pool and water wall. A 31' diameter ring (representing days missing) provides a barrier from the reflection pool and is composed of glass. The glass ring is suspended in the air by cables and illuminated at night to create the illusion from a distance of a halo floating in the woods. A segment of the path in front of the halo is only 36" wide allowing for visitors to circulate around the halo one at a time. Artificial turf surrounds the halo and provides an area for a small group to pay tribute to Caylee, view, and recognize that there is hope left for other missing children. The entire project is composed of 1042 planks of wood symbolizing the number of days Caylee was alive and 340 glass disks representing the number of other missing children that need our help finding their way home.


Potential Clients: National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Washington, DC, Orange County Parks, Orlando, Florida

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MISSION STATEMENT Leading, educating, and participating in the careful stewardship, wise planning, and artful design of our cultural and natural environments.