The families of those who died in the collapse and the survivors worked closely with the City of Minneapolis to plan for this memorial. They originally selected Gold Metal Park for the site, where many people gathered and drew on communal strength and support in the aftermath. Oslund and Associates, the Park's designers, were engaged to develop the concept. Later the location was moved across the Parkway to a site with dramatic views of the Mississippi River and the Stone Arch bridge. The design intentionally incorporates a number of natural elements; stone, which symbolizes stability and immortality - Arborvitae trees which are symbols of strength and live for centuries - water, which has the ability to purify and regenerate - darkness and light, which signify the transition from tragedy into new life.
The main feature of the design is 13 steel I-beam and opaque glass columns engraved with the names of the victims and including text written by their families, some in their native languages. The columns line an 81' x 10' linear granite plaza. These dimensions reference the date of the bridge collapse, August 1, or 8/1. A phrase recognizing the first responders is etched into the face of one of the granite steps leading onto to the plaza. Benches for rest and contemplation are provided at either end. Behind the columns is a black granite wall with a phrase in stainless steel that embodies the underlying values of the memorial. The names of 171 of the survivors are engraved on the wall, which is also a fountain. A sheet of water flows quietly over the polished surface creating a meditative environment. A path leads from the wall to the bluff edge and an overlook that allows for views of the River and creates a space for quiet reflection. The memorial is illuminated in the evening with LED lights within the columns, along the path to the overlook, and at the base of the water wall.