HDR Architecture - Peter Kiewit Foundation Sculpture Garden in Omaha, Nebraska Print
Wednesday, 06 April 2011 07:03

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The Peter Kiewit Foundation Sculpture Garden extends the galleries of Joslyn Art Museum beyond its walls to display a significant sculpture collection within a landscaped enclave.

Maintaining the orthogonal organization of the museum's interior spaces, the garden continues axes established by the building in a palette of granite and greenery, employing design elements of flowing water and stone walls to bring art, nature, and people together. Each of the four outdoor galleries reflects the rectangular shape of the galleries inside the museum and is framed by pedestrian walkways and carefully placed vegetation that complement each sculpture piece.


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Edited by Lynda Waggoner


To buffer this precinct of art from the surrounding urban environment, a defining granite wall was used to extend a visual screen from within the garden to the busy street.

The green stone for the landscape, Lake Superior Green granite, was selected to match the granite used inside the Museum's atrium, connecting interior materials with the exterior. This stone was also used to encase the bases for the various sculptures, such as the Museum's signature work of art at the Garden's entry plaza, a 15-foot high 5,000-pound bronze sculpture, "Sioux Warrior." Most of the plant material is native and/or adaptive, with a red and pink color scheme reflecting the colors of the Georgian pink marble cladding on the Art Deco museum building.

The geometric heart of the new Peter Kiewit Foundation Sculpture Garden is the virtual extension of the atrium of the museum outside the building, to the east. This outdoor addition to the museum is defined by carefully-crafted specialty pavements that lead to the magnificent stone sculpture, "The Omaha Riverscape," by American granite sculptor Jesús Moroles. The centerpiece to the installation is a 118 foot-long, 26-foot-wide reflecting pool. The floor of the pool is 50 tons of Academy black granite, carved with a miniature “river” representing the Missouri River.



The sculpture comes to life with a continuous cycle as water fills the pool and is then drained down, simulating the rising and falling water levels of the river throughout the season. The meandering water feature is also equipped with a snowmelt system (underneath the granite and embedded in the concrete base) that allows the “river” to be seen, even during periods of heavy Midwest snow. Three 11-foot-tall columnar artworks in the reflecting pool, each made of a different kind of granite, are active pieces of sculpture, with water bubbling from their tops and trickling down to the pool below.



Moroles’ sculpture continues on the granite pavement east of the reflecting pool with a further segment of the scaled-down “river.” This connects to a pool of water that passes beneath a bridge-like driveway, and terminates at the sculpture's primary water source, the Broken Earth water wall. The 26-foot-wide, 12-foot-tall Dakota mahogany granite wall releases water in a continuous cascade from its top. A neighboring water wall, the Sydney Cate Family Fountain Wall, does the same. This dramatic 83-foot-long, nearly eight-foot tall water wall separates the garden from the bustling high school campus to the east.



The overall design of the garden allows visitors to not only view art, but to become immersed in the beauty of what they see. Granite slabs were placed throughout the site for seating, and grassed areas buffer the planting beds from the granite walks. Together, these components encourage journeying off the path, and provide spaces for events, programs and educational opportunities.



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Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 April 2011 07:21