Individual courtyard spaces that provide places for respite from the rigors of biomedical research are featured throughout the Medtronic campus. The Patent Garden is one of these spaces. Medtronic was searching for a space that would not only provide an area of contemplation, celebration and inspiration - but would also commemorate the tireless efforts of the company`s many scientists and engineers who have helped Medtronic to acquire an astounding 3,012 patents. The surrounding context of the garden is typical of countless forgotten spaces across the country. The space is located between a parking facility, a pedestrian link and the walls of the corporate library and research center. A space like this had the potential to be mired in indifference, and had it been ignored, may have become an uninteresting and vacant space between buildings. The Patent Garden has become a favored destination of employees and the first stop for visiting doctors and scientists from around the world. By engaging simple design elements and materials, the design philosophy for the garden became apparent in the solution of a Zen-like courtyard space. The space itself is a perfect square, 100` on each side, of crushed stone. Centered within the square is a 70` wide circle of lawn enclosed by a 1”-thick Corten steel wall. By focusing the simplicity of the base form into a square horizontal plane, counterpoints are offered with the vertical forms of a spiraling Corten steel wall, a specimen red maple, and deciduous and evergreen plantings. The Corten wall spirals up from grade to a height of 10`, representing the ever-increasing rate of innovation. This wall acts as an abstract gallery from which to display an array of patent buttons. Stainless steel buttons, each etched with the number of a currently held patent, are embedded in the wall according to decade. Individual brass buttons represent patents of distinction. This method of display was designed to help visitors visually measure the evolution of Medtronic`s innovative ideas; it also offers employees a way to celebrate their accomplishments in a humble, quiet and beautiful manner. A single red maple tree brings vitality and a focal point to the space in the fall months. A rectangular reflecting pool filled with smooth river stones moves across a portion of the lawn. This pool becomes, with the additional buffer of deciduous and evergreen plantings, a gateway into the hushed and powerful space of the garden. The simplicity and openness of the landscape architect`s design allows for a multiplicity of uses and functionality. Individual contemplation and inspiration, as well as large group gatherings can be accomplished within this space without losing the feeling of subtlety and calm. This design solution lifted the space to a higher plane of aesthetic and intellectual integrity, where the elements of contemplation, celebration and inspiration could meld together in a harmonious, pure and powerful form.

Constructed, 2001

Old - ASLA Minnesota Chapter Merit Award in 2003