Houston’s Memorial Park

A memorial park provides an atmosphere of natural beauty, peace for quiet meditation and a sense of dignity and honor to the memory of loved ones. It also offers a space for remembrance and renewal.

A memorial park merges infrastructure with ecology, an approach that Nelson Byrd Woltz principal Thomas Woltz says is increasingly necessary as cities become denser and more vulnerable to climate change.


When the construction of the June 5 Memorial Park was launched, it became a focus for discussions about ways to honor those who have served in the military and sacrificed their lives. Among the unique features of the site is a series of round markers in the concrete that commemorate where bodies were found in the collapsed building. They are illuminated at night in a pattern that corresponds to the windows in the sculpture and reflect the colors chosen by family members.

A subcam video captures the SA looking at children offering flowers at the Cenotaph and explains how his experience with the memorial is informed by this juxtaposition. As he continues to move through the space, it triggers other experiences that expose him to a series of dichotomies including war/peace, death/life, and past/future. These are then connected through a metaphor involving the A-Dome, which is viewed as being in ruins as it stands surrounded by more modern buildings.


After a series of severe droughts and hurricanes decimated the park’s pine-dominant canopy, Memorial Park Conservancy, Houston’s Uptown Development Authority and the City of Houston launched a master plan process to reconcile contemporary recreational use with a diverse native ecology that Houstonians value. The result is a plan that prioritizes ecological resilience and interpretation of the site’s historic narratives.

The new Memorial Park Land Bridge and Prairie, which opened this year, is an example of blending habitat restoration with infrastructure – “landscape infrastructure,” as Nelson Byrd Woltz principal Thomas Woltz calls it. As cities become both denser and more vulnerable to natural disasters, he says, “Why should we separate habitat restoration from large scale infrastructure projects?”

The design of the memorial space responds to changing attitudes towards death, with flat, flush markers instead of vertical monuments. The memorial space also reflects cultural traditions with an area dedicated to Chinese burial practices, including circular incense rings and a distinctive marker.


A memorial park serves as more than just a final resting place for loved ones. It also provides a peaceful space where families can visit and reflect on the lives of their loved ones, thereby fostering communities and promoting healing among those who have experienced loss.

In the context of this particular project, the design of the memorial park reflects the values and core beliefs of the Illinois State Police. The theme “Integrity, Service, Pride” is embedded both symbolically and literally throughout the various experiences a visitor will encounter in the park.

It is hoped that these various aspects will help visitors experience an instilled sense of honor for the men and women who serve with the Illinois State Police, as well as the sacrifices made by their comrades’ families and the gratitude they feel toward them. These sentiments are reflected both in the public gathering spaces and in more intimate experiences such as memorial inscriptions, sculptural elements, and hardscape materials.


Located at the base of the nation’s premier Air Force Base, Memorial Park offers a variety of recreational outdoor activities. The park is home to miles of multi-use trails, a running and exercise loop, an arboretum, and softball fields. It also hosts a public golf course and a public swimming pool.

The first monument added to the park was a Gold Star Monument, erected in collaboration with local Delaware Gold Star families and in style guidelines established by the Woody Williams Foundation, a national organization that helps establish permanent Gold Star Memorials for fallen veterans. The newest addition to the park is the Submariners Monument which honors the 52 US Navy submariners that were lost during WWII.

After years of exposure to the elements, the original six-panel Walls of Remembrance were showing signs of wear and tear. It took DRBA’s Maintenance crews two years to restore them and the Walls were rededicated on Memorial Day in 2011. Thousands of names have been engraved on these historical markers by members of the community who lost loved ones during the Holocaust.

Related Posts