Into the (Steel) Woods We Go

RDG’s design for the curved steel trees at Iowa’s Lauridsen Amphitheater creates an iconic structure that inspires awe and wonder.

There is music between the trees in Water Works Park. Hugging the bank of Raccoon River near downtown Des Moines, Iowa, the 1,500-acre riverside woodland area is one of the country’s largest urban parks, an outdoor oasis in the heart of the city.

Lauridsen Amphitheater at Water Works Park in Des Moines, Iowa by RDG. Photography by Joe Crimmings.

In an effort to bring more residents and visitors to the park, the Water Works Park Foundation embarked on a plan to develop an underused flood-prone space alongside a mature arboretum. The focal point is the steel-framed Lauridsen Amphitheater, an outdoor stage flanked by two woven steel “trees.” Designed by RDG, the complex, curved steel columns are a natural response to the local environment, inspired by the form of an oak tree.

Since its opening in summer 2019, the amphitheater has hosted several concerts and civic events. Through the purposeful partnership between architect, engineer, contractor and fabricator, the structure inspires awe and wonder, creating a stage that is more than just a stage, that becomes one with its natural surroundings.

Get a detailed look at the creation of these iconic steel structures in Modern Steel Construction’s latest issue.

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