Bluestem Design-Build Opening at Iowa Arboretum
BLUESTEM is named after a native Iowan tallgrass and pays homage to the prairie which once covered nearly 80% of Iowa. Located in the Iowa Arboretum, BLUESTEM situates itself at the threshold between the walking path and the windbreak in the southwestern corner of the main campus. Two hundred tall, thin poles occupy a base of mulch and a path of pea gravel. These poles meet the ground at varying angles and orientations, creating a moiré effect and a feeling of movement reminiscent of tallgrasses swaying in the wind. Colors similar to native fields were used to emphasize wayfinding and to define internal spaces and clusters of seating. Shades of magenta and aqua define the lengths of the poles, while a lighter pink marks the top face, signifying the seed heads of the grasses. BLUESTEM is an implementation of a new tallgrass. The eight-foot poles invert the scalar relationship between humans and their environment, thus reminding occupants that they are part of the ecosystems that surround us.
This project was made possible by the Stan G. Thurston Professorship in Design Build; the College of Design; and the Department of Architecture. The Formwork Workshop with Construction Engineering was made possible by a donation from Dirk Schaefer (Alum Dates Unknown). The Proving Ground Workshop was made possible by the Daniel J. Huberty Faculty Fellowship.