Home-like art installation coming to Black Hawk Mini Park

A rendering of the planned Prairie Box structure coming downtown Iowa City. — image via the Iowa City Downtown District

The Black Hawk Mini Park in downtown Iowa City will host a temporary art installation called the “Prairie Box” designed by Hannah Givler, a sculpture and design instructor at the University of Iowa, from August through the end of October. The plan was unanimously approved by the Iowa City Council last week.

The park, located in the Ped Mall along Washington Street, will house the interactive sculpture resembling a historic foursquare home, including prairie flowers, four porch swings and an ADA compliant ramp for ease of access.

“I believe architectural space can convey meaning, share stories, affect social behavior and share history,” Givler said at the city council meeting on last week.

The installation is part of efforts through the Iowa City Downtown District to make the space more interactive, including outdoor yoga on Sundays, Wednesday board game days and Friday community lunches.

Givler said she considered “the current climate and social anxieties at the local and national level” before setting out to create a welcoming structure and gathering space. Each side of the Prairie Box has an entrance and structure has an open framework than can be used for both spontaneous and planned activities.

Givler described the idea of a porch as hybrid structure, a space where the private life in the home meets the public life near to the streets.

“The thing that interests me about the prominence of the porch in this structure, is the hybrid dynamic of public and private space, a porch is both of these things, and I think it can challenge notions we have about what it means to make oneself at home in public,” she said.

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