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Merit Award

Truman: A Walk with Harry
Independence, Missouri
SWA Group
Lead Landscape Architect: Rene Bihan
Client: Gallagher & Associates

We carry history with us as we continue Truman’s walk.
Concluding the walk, the redesigned courtyard creates a place of peace and reflection where the burial monuments of Harry and his family are set within in a simple field of
yellow roses, chosen to honor his wife Bess’ fondness of the flower.
Stepping out into the light, the monumental fountain celebrates Truman as the 33rd president as well his status as a 33rd degree mason. Clearly visible from the Highway, the fountain features 33 bubblers and corresponding water veils to honor these achievements.
Upon arriving in a grove of Korean dogwoods, a strong axis ties the civil rights amphitheater to the Korean War Memorial. This axis splits the boulder, representing the division along the 38th parallel between North and South Korea.
Next, the visitor reaches the amphitheater, which will serve as a concert venue and gathering space, as well as a place to commemorate Truman’s contribution to advancing civil rights in this country.
Entering the Ginkgo tree bosque, the WWII memorial is a place for quiet reflection on the magnitude of Harry’s decisions in war and reconstruction. The simple bosque of Ginkgos, gifted by Japan, were cultivated from seeds of the Hiroshima Ginkgo that survived the atomic bomb.
The walk then decends to the WWI memorial, which tells the story of how Truman learned to be a leader, earning the trust of the 129th field artillery and entering a new phase
in his life.
The walk begins at a picnic area with porch swings overlooking the landscape, tucked into the re-established Missouri prairie grasslands. This area is dedicated as a memorial to Truman’s early years, where he developed his core characteristics of kindness, grit, simplicity, and humor.
Harry S. Truman was a famous walker, taking 128 steps per minute at 30 inches a stride. The walking loop around the library grounds, with markers measuring Truman’s pace, connects memorials and gathering spaces.
In order to touch the lives of current and future generations and encourage civic engagement, the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum is taking measures to
reimagine its visitor experience and increase its relevance through improved storytelling, ecology, and outreach in the landscape.
Though the redesign focuses on the Library site, the intention is to extend the walk to connect both physically and programmatically to the numerous significant historical resources off-site within the town of Independence.
Located in the center of the nation, the historic town of Independence was where Harry S. Truman grew up, forming his earliest impressions of the world. Following his presidency, Truman returned to his hometown to live out his life.

Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States, was an avid walker throughout his life. He maintained his daily walking regime during his presidency and into his later years after he returned to his hometown of Independence, Missouri. He used walking as a way to commence his day, ruminate on decisions, stay healthy, and appreciate the landscape.

By reimagining the grounds of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum with a walking loop, series of memorials, and an enhanced ecological experience, visitors are encouraged to “Walk with Harry” and understand Truman’s life and an extraordinary period of American history through the lens of landscape. The walk is measured out at Truman’s pace, 30 inches a stride and 128 steps per minute. This redesign will transform the grounds, currently an underutilized ornamental monoculture, into an important national resource that brings history, the Missouri landscape, and civic engagement into focus. The transformation allows the visitor to walk alongside Truman, and appreciate history out in the open, in a direct and participatory manner.