Saiki Design worked with Exact Sciences to realize their vision for a contemplative memorial space at their University Research Park headquarters. A tribute to the life and legacy of Dr. David Ahlquist, a Mayo Clinic physician who collaborated with Exact Sciences to develop groundbreaking methods of early cancer detection, The Garden strives to connect visitors to the environments that inspired Dr. Ahlquist himself.
Dr. Ahlquist’s profound advice guided design decisions made on the project, though his name does not appear in The Garden, a testament to his humility. “What do you want to do? What do you need to do to get there? Are you willing to do it?” These questions posed by Dr. Ahlquist were among quotes hand-selected by his family and Exact Sciences staff to be featured on a series of granite landscape walls throughout The Garden. Limestone benches populate seating nodes and allow visitors to experience and interpret the messages inscribed on each wall. Multiple entrances and paths symbolize the journey of an idea; one that is not linear, but instead a complex web of refinement until a solution is reached. Challenged by the desire to preserve mature trees within the project site, the paths, nodes and sculptural elements were carefully sited.
The Memorial Garden features a native-inspired plant palette and custom-designed murals on metal panels depicting prairie landscapes and local bird species. On the south end of the project, water softly cascades down three of the tallest granite walls and highlight the murals and Dr. Ahlquist’s words, an effort to inspire in visitors the notion that the journey to a solution can be complicated, but that is not a reason to quit. Nature is always here to inspire us, and most importantly, “The answer is within you.”- Dr. David Ahlquist.
The project received an award for the best outdoor landscape project of the year.