- Location: Science Center of Iowa, Des Moines IA (2007)
- Client: Science Center of Iowa
- Size: 100’ x 300’ x 5’
- Material: Earth-work, rain garden, patterned concrete, granite
- Budget: $245,000
- Funded: Science Center of Iowa
- Photo Credits: James Cobb
Transforming a Site
In 2006 the eastern face of the new Science Center of Iowa was largely undeveloped. Our project The Big Question transformed this area into an environment that brings the sense of wonder and inquiry that visitors experience inside the Science Center to the outside of the building.
The public art plaza of the Science Center now serves as a gathering place, a play area, and a science exhibit. The main element of the new design is an earth berm in the shape of a question mark to be used as an amphitheater for gatherings and events.
From Planets to Atoms
The Big Question plays with scale, encompassing infinitesimally small atoms to colossal planets. Using an acid staining technique, the planets of the solar system and lines marking their orbits are depicted on the plaza. The dot of the question mark is also an atom with granite seats as the orbiting electrons.
Alongside the planets, questions inscribed into the concrete seem to spill out of the question mark. Without direct answers the questions are thought-provoking, but still light-hearted to draw out a sense of wonder and curiosity in both children and adults.