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OSU landscape architecture students create proposed memorials for 2015 homecoming parade tragedy

STILLWATER, Okla. – Students in Oklahoma State University’s Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture are working on a project that has potential to have a lasting effect in Stillwater.

Bo Zhang, assistant professor, worked with the students in his Landscape Architecture 4515: Studio 5: Urban Design class to create a memorial for the tragic 2015 homecoming parade crash that took the lives of four parade-goers and injured 46 more.

“One of my students, Colton Craig, sent me an email this summer about this topic and that’s how it became a class project. The feedback from students was very positive and they were motivated to do a great project, not only for their design portfolio, but also for the community, the city and the university,” Zhang said. “While this project is hypothetical, we hope the students’ proposals could initiate a movement that leads to the discussion and the realization of a memorial in Stillwater.”

The location of the proposed memorial is on the northwest corner of the intersection of Hall of Fame and Main Street, near where the crash occurred. Patty Evans, city planner with the City of Stillwater, helped the group determine the site.

The design proposals, based on their understanding of loss, grief, unity and love, include master plans, sections, perspectives, bird’s-eye views and 3-D physical models, are currently on display now through Nov. 4 in the OSU Architecture Gallery. This exhibit is themed “Place Making for Lasting Memory.”

Janet Cole, head of the horticulture and landscape architecture department, said the idea of landscape design is to create functional outdoor environments.

“We create areas where people can celebrate events and areas to heal after tragedy,” Cole said. “OSU and our students experienced an outpouring of support last year and these students bring that support into their designs.”

The student designs incorporated a myriad of architectural features, including reflecting pools, memorial walls with inscriptions, timelines and fountains, along with various plantings and trees.

Jonathan Gregory presented his design as the Four Strong Memorial.

“My design reflects loss, remembrance and healing for this small town we call our home,” Gregory said. “A memorial is a symbol of meaning that goes deeper than words. It’s a space that creates connection to the human soul.”

Craig said it was hard for him to do the research for this project because it was sad.

“I call my design the Stillwater Strong Memorial and it has a reflecting pool of still water and the materials are strong,” Craig said. “It’s a play on words, but has a lot of meaning.”

Zhang said he is proud of the designs his students created and how they approached various urban design issues.

“As landscape professionals, I felt like we should do something. This opens a dialogue with the City of Stillwater for the creation of a memorial,” Zhang said.


CUTLINE INFORMATION: Jonathan Gregory presents Four Strong Memorial design in his Landscape Architecture 4515: Studio 5: Urban Design class. Students were charged with designing a memorial for the 2015 OSU homecoming parade tragedy. (Photo by Todd Johnson, Agricultural Communications Services)

Trisha Gedon
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
Oklahoma State University
136 Agriculture North
Stillwater, OK  74078
405-744-3625 (phone)
405-744-5739 (fax)

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078