News Service


Mark Engelbrecht, Design, (515) 294-7427
Tom Dunbar, Dunbar Jones Partnership, (515) 280-8026
Steve Sullivan, News Service, (515) 294-3720


AMES, Iowa -- A beloved, central attraction of Iowa State University has been chosen as a "medallion site" by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

To commemorate its centennial, the ASLA has selected more than 300 significant landscapes across the country as "medallion sites." Thirteen of the sites are on college campuses, but only three are central campus sites -- Yale University, the University of Virginia and Iowa State University.

The ASLA selected five Iowa locations as "medallion sites." In addition to ISU's central campus, the sites are Backbone State Park in Delaware County, Eagle Point Park in Dubuque, the Loess Hills in Western Iowa and the Neal Smith National Wildlife Reserve in Prairie City.

State ASLA chapters submitted proposed medallion sites to the national organization, said Tom Dunbar, immediate past president of the national ASLA. Dunbar is a 1969 ISU landscape architecture alum and senior partner of Dunbar Jones Partnership, a landscape architecture firm in Des Moines.

"The sites were selected because they represent places that were special to the heart and soul -- places where landscape architecture had something to do with making them what they are," Dunbar said.

Development of Iowa State's central campus landscape began in the 1860s under the leadership of President A. S. Welch. During the university's history, various ISU officials and nationally known landscape architects have played a role in the development of ISU's park-like campus.

Iowa State's central campus includes 490 acres of trees, plants and classically designed buildings. The landscape's most dominant feature is the 20-acre central lawn. Over the decades, campus buildings, including the Campanile, Beardshear Hall and Curtiss Hall, circled and preserved the central lawn, creating a space where students study, relax and socialize.

"The grandness of its space-- which is created by structures, places and plant material -- has been a very special place for Iowa State students," Dunbar said. "The space is used by students for so many different purposes, and that use also contributes to central campus' significance as a landscape."

The campus environment is a selling point for the university, said David Bousquet, assistant vice president for enrollment.

"It is a beautiful and remarkable place," said Bousquet. "It looks and feels like a college campus. It is easy for students who visit to envision spending four years here earning their degrees.

Iowa State's campus also includes more than 200 works of art, many by sculptor Christian Petersen. In 1991, the Iowa State campus was chosen as one of the country's 25 most beautiful in a 1991 book, "The Campus As a Work of Art."

Presentation of the ASLA medallion to ISU tentatively has been scheduled for Sept. 1.


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