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News: World Food Prize Foundation Garden Opens to Public

Posted on by Nick Fobes


News: World
Food Prize Foundation Garden Opens to Public


This weekend, the World Food Prize Foundation opens the doors of the Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Hall of Laureates and its two-acre formal garden to the public. The former Des Moines, IA public library is the new home of the World Food Prize Foundation, which bestows the foremost international award recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.


Photo credit, Bill Kuhn


While we’ll have some outstanding pics of the finished garden on our site in the next few weeks, we thought images how a garden of this scale is created would be fun to see. The intent behind the garden’s formality is to be a space that respects the architectural style of the historic building and that conveys the importance and dignity of the World Food Prize itself. Weekly photographs of the site give a sense of the ceremonial nature of the garden as the symmetrical pathways, nodes and planting beds slowly take shape.


The sidewalk layout was staked onsite from our computer files by the contractor using Total Station (GPS) and approved by us so they could be installed first before the plantings.


In planting areas, the contractor removed existing soil and replaced it with specially-engineered planting soils at 18” below grade. Planting installation begins with structure trees and shrubs.


The planting beds begin to take shape


Once trees and shrubs are complete in an area, perennials and annuals go in. Come back in a few weeks for what it looks like completed!


A gathering space at the entrance to the Hall of Laureates is marked by an1100 square-foot, granite-inlaid map of the world. After designing the map, drawing and detailing each land mass, we sent it to Cold Spring Granite in Minnesota to be fabricated, a process which took several months.  After laser cutting each continent, island and body of water individually, they combined them into larger pieces divided by each latitude and longitude line. They were then delivered in large crates to the site for installation.


Left, view from roof of map. Right, Hi Japan.


Using a crane to lower the pieces into place, the contractor assembled and installed the map in about two weeks.


Like many of the residential gardens we design, this garden was planned to appear mature from the first day of opening. To do this, we had to hand-select all trees and shrubs from a variety of nurseries. One third of the trees we specified and the contractor planted were 20 feet tall or more.  All perennials and annuals in the garden were grown from seed at local production nurseries. There are roughly 10,000 perennials, 2000 shrubs, and 90 trees on the site, in addition to large annual displays and urn plantings that will change with the seasons.


The tallest trees on the site (25-feet-high and more) were installed with cranes


As the seasons progress, visitors will see an annual display of asters, mums, viola and alyssum in the fall. In the spring, flowering pear, amelanchiers, hawthornes, lilacs, magnolias, crab apple trees and viburnum will complement a display of tulips, grape hyacinth and allium.  In the summer, annuals and perennials will bloom alongside three varieties of hydrangeas and roses. Winter interest is carefully designed into the garden. Formally clipped boxwood and yew hedges will complement the structural qualities of deciduous trees placed in formal patterns throughout the site.


Swaths of Viola and alyssum annual plantings frame the formal gathering lawn. A mix of annual aster plantings highlight the nodes of the garden that can be seen from every vantage point.


Entrance paths into the garden from the corners of the site along Second Street lead visitors past statues of Dr. Norman Borlaug and John Ruan, Sr., the founder and sponsor of the World Food Prize.


See the DesMoines Register site for a comprehensive section on the project, including details on the incredible building restoration, which is anticipated to receive LEED Platinum certification.


Illustriative plan showing the design of the garden.

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