Facility Profile - February 2011
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Recreation Center: Sculpting a Space

John & Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park in DES MOINES, Iowa

By Dawn Klingensmith

The sculpture park—essentially an outdoor museum—is the most dramatic part of a sweeping downtown revitalization plan.

"From the day it opened, people have flocked to it," said Don Tripp, director, Des Moines Parks and Recreation Department. He recalled with a chuckle an encounter with a farmer in bib overalls and a flannel work shirt, who gaped at a sculpture and pronounced it "the damndest thing" he'd ever seen. His response was gratifying to Tripp, who envisions a park system in which public art takes a place of honor along with nature and recreation.

The park is not just important for culture but also for commerce.

"We tore down taxable property and put in park space expecting that companies would build corporate headquarters here, and it is working," he said. "Open park space and cultural attractions do drive economic development."


Des Moines Art Center:

Des Moines Parks & Recreation:

PHN Architects: