What the missing medallion means

Kiana Brincks

A medallion awarded in 1999 to Iowa State’s landscape architecture program on display at Central Campus is missing.

“For us it’s like winning an olympic medal,” said Rhonda Martin, a landscape architect with facilities planning and management.

The medallion was awarded by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and has been reportedly missing since early August of 2017. Over 300 sites across the nation were honored by ASLA but only three medallions were given to the university’s central campus.

Martin wasn’t present when the university was granted the medallion, but she knows how significant the medallion is. Working for such a beautiful campus is something to be proud of, Martin said. She talked about the significance of the medallion on student campus tours.  

“On the tour they stop right at the steps of Curtiss and talk about how beautiful the campus is,” Martin said. “It’s a great view, you have Beardshear in front of you, the Campanile and Catt Hall.”

Central Campus is widely referred to as the heart of campus, where you can see many structures that give the campus its character. This is why the medallion was placed in such an important spot, a rock in Central Campus near the path between Beardshear and Curtiss.

Carl Rogers, chair and associate professor for landscape architecture, added that Central Campus is definitely what made Iowa State stand out to ASLA.

“The design of Central Campus is significant because of the open space to higher education institution,” Rogers said. “It’s symbolism in itself that you don’t see other institutions that have that grand of an open space that’s in the center of campus. It’s the heart, it’s the soul of higher education. It really becomes the image people remember of the campus.”

Martin touched on how she’s been to a variety of campuses and has not seen a Central Campus as spacious as Iowa State. The 20 acres known as Central Campus are what Martin and Rogers believe made the university fitting and deserving of the ASLA medallion.

The vision of the design for Central Campus is credited to Iowa State’s first president, President Welch. Martin offered credit to the design and planning of central campus. She gave thought on how well space was preserved and the placement of buildings which, is why Central Campus is so spacious.

Placing the medallion in Central Campus symbolizes the honor of the award and recognizes how campus landscape represents Iowa State University.

“The university is about higher education, community and being in a place that fosters deeper knowledge and central campus really symbolizes that. You have the ability to see the classical buildings which, conjures an image of what Iowa State is,” Rogers said.