Client: University of Northern Iowa
Location: Cedar Falls, IA, United States
Completion date: 2012
Artwork budget: $200,000
UI Sculpture Dept.
Bower is a forest of monumental beacons scattered throughout the interior lounge and exterior plaza at the main entrance of a new residence hall complex. The building is designed with many social and activity spaces so that students can have the benefit of friendship and support. The branch motif is symbolic not only of that supportive community but of the connections they will make during college, the strong roots of knowledge that they will establish, and the growth they will experience through their education. This project is notable for the fact that it was the catalyst for UNI’s new Public Art incubator program started by Sculpture professor Tom Stancliffe.
I wanted to mark the entrance to the residence complex so that it could be seen from all over campus. I wanted it to look like welcoming beacons standing guard inside and outside the lodge-like structure.
The collaboration aspect of this project was notable. For a long time, Professor Stancliffe wanted to create jobs for his sculpture students to learn by fabricating artwork for other artists. I didn't know this at the time I proposed it as a finalist. Needless to say, my idea was accepted enthusiastically. The students worked all summer to fabricate Bower, earning money for themselves and the school. In this way the majority of the funds generated by the project went back to the students. It also launched their Public Art Incubator program.
There are 9 beacons in total. Five are on the outside, 4 of the largest ones are inside in the great hall. They are like a forest continuing to grow inside the lodge. They also define seating areas and the main pathway.