The design of this two-acre landscape responds to the desire for a traditional, timeless space reminiscent of public gardens and plazas around the world. An integral part of the LEED Platinum restoration, the garden is a significant addition to downtown Des Moines’ public green space.
The World Food Prize is an international award that acknowledges those who have helped make food better, more plentiful, or more accessible to the world’s population. Naturally, the landscape surrounding the World Food Prize Foundation in Des Moines, Iowa should rightfully reflect the importance and dignity of the mission it adorns.
The city’s century-old public library was being converted into the new home for the Foundation, and Hoerr Schaudt was selected to design a formal garden that would function as the organization’s ceremonial space. Entrance paths into the garden from Second Street lead visitors past commissioned statues of Dr. Norman Borlaug and John Ruan, the founder and sponsor of the Prize, and then to a 1,100 square foot, granite-inlaid map of the world, which symbolically marks the gathering space located at the entrance to the Hall of Laureates. Directly west of the map across the events lawn, a fountain acts as a visual focal point in the garden when viewed from the Hall’s main entrance.
Annual displays serve as the land’s commemoration of these heroes, with asters, mums, viola and alyssum celebrating in the fall, and flowering pear, amelanchiers, hawthorns, lilacs, magonolias, and crab apple trees paying their gratitude in the spring. Summer invites annuals and perennials to bloom alongside three varieties of hydrangeas and roses, while winter features clipped boxwood and yew hedges that complement the structural qualities of the planted deciduous trees.
The garden has become an important node in Des Moines’ public realm, simultaneously functioning as an attraction to those visiting the Civic Center across the street, as well as a destination for those travelling the Des Moines River Greenbelt, which intersects the site.