Descending Strength, Ascending Peace, Veterans Memorial


Client: Veterans Memorial Committee of Ames

Location: Ames, IA, United States

Completion date: 2006

Artwork budget: $250,000

Project Team


Chris Bennett

Bennett Studio

Landscape Architect

Paul Popelka

Engineering Plus

Landscape Architect

Randy Lueth

Engineering Plus

Industry Resource

Country Landscapes

Industry Resource

Carr Lane Castings


The 125 by 60 foot design includes limestone seating elements bearing the names of the military branches. Granite tiles, listing constitutional rights, surround a single star-shaped central “light fountain”. Donor bricks form the two entry walkways and circular plaza. Sculptural elements include an eagle descending with six arrows, and a dove ascending with an olive branch, mounted on a 22 by 10 foot furling bronze wall, which features a quote by George Washington. A stone wall, land-shaping, and landscaping, surrounds the quiet space. A 40 foot pole and 12 foot American flag behind the wall is prominent.


The goal of the project was to pay tribute to all veterans of all military branches whose origins or residence is within the surrounding region of Ames, Iowa. The original request for proposals asked for a singular sculptural element which would represent those veterans. Once my work was chosen for the project, I met with the committee for discussion. Through those meetings, the commission expanded to include an environment to frame and premiere a sculptural element (s). The commissioned artwork became the overall design. Every facet of the one quarter block area composition became integral to the theme, of which none could easily be eliminated. I designed an outdoor quiet-space room with a semi-circle four foot high earth berm, complemented by a curve of landscaping behind the bronze wall. Long brick walkways lead into the seclude plaza. Within that space one can sit, rest, and contemplate with the thematic visual elements to feed their mind and thoughts.


I collaborated with Engineering Plus of Ames. Paul Popelka and Randy Lueth, of that company, provided aid with the landscape architectural blueprints and coordination of the various elements to be installed. Country Landscaping of Ames provided the land-shaping, landscaping and implementation of the plaza, walkways, and light fountain. Custom Steel of Ames worked with my specifications to create and install the furling bronze wall, backed by a one foot thick concrete wall. I designed and modeled the flying eagle and dove, then coordinated with Carr Lane Castings of St. Louis, MO. to cast them in bronze and formulate an appropriate mount system. All text patterns and sandblasting for the bronze wall, the stone seating, the donor bricks, and granite tiles were provide by Nevada Monument of Nevada, IA. For some of the research to establish a direction for the theme of the project, Norm Rudi, an Ames veteran, architect, and author of several military novel documentaries, was an invaluable resource. I was the general contractor, coordinator, and gave personal oversight for all facets of the project.

Additional Information

I welcome and enjoy collaboration with architects, engineers, landscape designers, enlargers, and other artists. Working with various project professionals allows a perspective technically and creatively to my overall designs. I have worked successfully within formal artist teams, although, for most projects I contract others to perform various segments of my designs with their skills, which I then synthesize into a final unit.