Masonry Institute of Iowa Announces 2019 Architectural Design Award Winners

October 08, 2019
Civil Engineering & Water Resources Parks & Open Space Public Art

The RDG-designed Grinnell Central Park has been honored with a 2019 Award of Merit.

The Masonry Insitute of Iowa has recognized RDG Planning & Design with a 2019 Architectural Design Award for the firm’s design of Grinnell Central Park in Grinnell, Iowa. These awards bring recognition to projects that, among other criteria, offer creative use of masonry and design suitability to the surrounding environment. and were presented during a ceremony on September 27, 2019, during the AIA Convention in Des Moines, Iowa.

A total of 253 individual tiles in five different sizes were fabricated by hand for the park. Photo by Kun Zhang.

Gifted to the City by J.B. Grinnell in the late 1800s, the park has provided generations of citizens with a civic venue for festivals, concerts, community events and family gatherings. Done in collaboration with the city, the renovation integrates the park with the city’s downtown area and capitalizes on the rich cultural history of Grinnell to reinforce the spirit and emotion the park has come to embody.

RDG’s design incorporates two masonry and glulam structures: an outdoor covered performance stage and an open-air shelter with a fireplace and family restrooms. The park includes masonry pavers in a multitude of colors and sizes, which meander through the central plaza area. The project team was challenged to pay homage to the historic Walter Burley Griffin fountain that once was the focal point of the park and complemented the famed Louis Sullivan Jewel Box Bank, which sits across the street from this site. In response, the team chose masonry as the main building material, complemented by terracotta elements to create a backdrop for the performance stage in tribute to the Jewel Box Bank. Roman brick with a raked joint emphasizes the horizontality of these structures.

Written by Erin Van Zee, Communications Director