The Ellen S. Clark Hope Plaza re-creates the wild, self-sustaining habitat of a native Missouri woodland, with an infinity fountain as a serene centerpiece. With its soft curves and seasonal foliage, it is intended to provide a calming refuge for employees, patients and other visitors to Washington University Medical Center.

purple coneflower with bee

The Designers

The plaza was designed by renowned architect Maya Lin, known for the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, and landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.

Of her design, Lin says, “I wanted to create a place that would allow visitors who are coming here — many for very difficult medical situations — to be transported to a beautiful place that would give them a sense of comfort, peace and hope.”



The plaza’s sustainable design has achieved LEED certification.

  • Maintenance (weeding, trimming, mulching, and replanting) is kept to a minimum to foster natural growth and evolution
  • Native, perennial plants self cultivate each year and naturally crowd out weeds
  • Mulch is made of recycled leaves gathered from street cleaning
  • Drought-resistant plants save water
  • A temporary irrigation system decomposes naturally as the garden matures beyond the need for watering
  • No pesticides are used


Human interference is kept to a minimum to foster natural growth and evolution. The Missouri Botanical Garden provides guidance on plant choices and upkeep.

purple flowers


  • Clean fountain
  • Replant water lilies
  • Mulch where needed
  • Cut back plants
  • Add plants as needed and remove those that are not thriving


  • Weed
  • Trim trees
  • Trim plants around hardscape


  • Cut back plants