UI proposes a series of gateway monuments

A plan to erect monuments as official “entrances” onto the UI campus has yet to find a supplier.


Nick Rohlman

A bus stops at the Old Capitol Transit Center on Wednesday January 30, 2019.

Josie Fischels, News Reporter

University of Iowa students may soon see towering 13-foot granite monuments marking their walk across campus.

The monuments, part of “The Gateway Project,” are proposed as a series of granite columns placed at certain “gateway” entrances to the university. The UI issued a public call on April 2 to find a supplier to build them.

Rod Lehnertz, UI senior vice president for Finance and Operations, said the idea has been one of the universities’ goals for some time.

Because of the UI’s unique location at the heart of Iowa City, Lehnertz said, there has been debate as to where the campus officially begins.

“One of the models that we have seen at other universities is the notion of a gateway, of an entrance,” Lehnertz said. “A place where you are now on our campus and you know that you have come to the University of Iowa.”

A drawing of the monuments shows each column is proposed as having a two-toned bronze UI seal on the front, the word “IOWA” inscribed in bronze directly into the foundation beneath, and a granite world globe at the top with North America front-facing.

Lehnertz said the monuments are modeled to reflect stone obelisks that lined Iowa Avenue separating the old football and baseball stadiums before the 1929 construction of what is now Kinnick Stadium.

“One of those [obelisks] still exists on campus, right next to Iowa Avenue,” said Lehnertz.

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Other historical factors also went into the design of the monuments. Lehnertz said the column will be five-sided to represent the Pentacrest.

The globe on top, reflective of a similar design on the original monuments, represents the UI’s intent to have a global impact.


According to the request for proposals, “The Gateway Project requires the supplier to fabricate, provide, store, deliver, and install a series of granite monuments with a bronze seal at various locations around campus to welcome guests to the university.”

The request will close on April 25 when a committee designated by the UI will evaluate proposals to choose a supplier, according to the proposal documents.

The first installation will be made possible by a gift of $100,000 from Mary Louise Petersen, the eponym of Petersen Residence Hall, and her husband, Rand. Although there is no definitive timeline for when the first monument will be placed, the plan is to install it at the intersection of Church and Dubuque Streets.

“Our family has been proud to support many areas of the University of Iowa for three generations,” Petersen said in a statement to The Daily Iowan. “The Gateway Project is a wonderful way to welcome all — including students, alums, and community — to Iowa’s beautiful campus, and we are happy to help make it a reality.”

Future installations at additional sites across campus will be considered should additional donor funding be dedicated to the project, Lehnertz said.

“We believe these will serve as a visual demarcation to a person coming into campus, but we also know that it will tell a story of who we are and what we aspire to be,” he said.