Return to Nicholas Johnson's Main Web Site

Return to Nicholas Johnson's Coralville Rain Forest Web Site

"Earthpark" Selects Siemens as Technology Provider
Ken Aurichio
Des Moines and New York

May 17, 2006

The 21st century environmental center to be built in Iowa will be named Earthpark and will feature Siemens as its primary technology provider, project leaders announced today. In addition, two new conceptual images of the striking four acre facility, which will become one of America’s largest ‘green’ buildings, were released by Grimshaw Architects of New York and London.

Earthpark will include a large aquarium, exterior prairie and wetland exhibits, an indoor rain forest, and galleries on multiple eco-systems and environmental science issues.  The most sophisticated ‘green’ technologies in the world --demonstrating the viability and success such innovations can bring to the global economy and environment -- will be seen by up to one million visitors per year. Earthpark will feature a sustainable design and will use alternative and renewable energy technologies.

“Earthpark will be by far the largest environmentally grounded learning center in North America, with linkages to other environmental projects globally,” said former Iowa Governor Robert Ray, chairman of the project’s board of directors, in a statement prepared before his departure this week for China. “Earthpark links two warm words into a compelling name celebrating the natural world. We also are excited to collaborate with Siemens because of their ingenuity and commitment to innovation in key areas of global infrastructure,” Ray said.

Siemens, one of the world’s largest technology and engineering companies, will provide Earthpark with products, services, and design input, and will help create and support learning programs for those visiting the facility.  Specific plans and technologies will be announced at a later date. Construction of Earthpark will begin in 2007; it is slated to open during the 2009 – 2010 school year.

“This is an exciting concept that has proven its global relevance and value in the U.K.,” said Ken Cornelius, head of Siemens One, Inc., the sales organization for Siemens USA, “this is the time for a substantial, provocative environmental learning center in the United States.”

Current and future Siemens technologies, such as fuel cells, geo-thermal and water treatment equipment, advanced lighting, communications, fire, life safety, and security systems, among others, will be embedded and displayed inside Earthpark. Other companies involved with planning the project include KUD International of Los Angeles, Weitz of Des Moines, and Turner Construction of Atlanta.

Project Executive Director David Oman noted that individuals from seven countries and seven U.S. states are helping to plan, design, and finance Earthpark, which has a construction and start up budget of approximately $155 million. “The talented people developing  Earthpark bring decades of experience to this endeavor,” Oman said. He added, “We have built a collaborative relationship with the Siemens team. Like us, they see a lot of potential to continue developing alternative and renewable energy sources in the Midwest.”

Founder Ted Townsend of Des Moines underscored his vision for Earthpark, linking “education, environmental awareness, energy issues, and economic development – all powerful themes important to Iowa, our country and, indeed, the world.” Townsend added that stunning architecture, art and other cultural attributes in the blended, eco-oriented learning center will make it a one-of-a-kind destination.

Grimshaw Architects partner Andrew Whalley, speaking from London, unveiled two exciting conceptual images of what the Project could look like, each based on an inspiration from the natural world—the bone structure of a bat wing and the curvature of a nautilus shell.

“Iowa has an opportunity, we believe, to host a true architectural icon—a large structure, unique in the world, that will be recognized by people around the world,” said Whalley, who was the principle architect for the Eden Project in Cornwall, U.K., the only other environmental facility similar to what Earthpark will become. Eden generates approximately $250 million in economic activity in Cornwall annually, while attracting 1.2 million people.

“Lessons from nature, including from our exploratory trip to the Amazon rain forest in Brazil, four months ago, have helped us create a strong environmental learning platform from the inside out,” said Whalley, adding that “the building itself, with its special design, Teflon like roof material, and powered by cutting edge Siemens technology, will teach people new approaches to designing, building, operating green structures.” Earthpark will be the first international project using Grimshaw’s Environmentally Viable Architecture (EVA) model.

Whalley and Project Manager John Best of KUD, reviewed several proposed programmatic elements of Earthpark, including Earthpark Learning Lab and a more refined indoor rain forest experience segmented into three zones— “Cloud Forest,” “Deep Jungle!,” and a lowland and flooded forest zone known as “Amazon Waters,” which will link with the fresh water aquarium.

Executive Director Oman updated Iowa media on progress of Earthpark’s site selection. From an original roster of sites in 16 Iowa communities, board members and staff continue to work with city and development teams in Dubuque, Grinnell, Pella, Riverside, and Tiffin.

Oman indicated that available acreage continues to be a key element in decision making, along with ambience, proximity to nearby educational institutions, access to good highways, and local financial assistance.  It is expected that a location for Earthpark will be resolved in June following a final review of local partnership proposals.  Oman added, “While the project will headquarter in Iowa, bringing a lot of people and attention to our state, this will always be much more than an Iowa project.”

About Siemens

Siemens AG (NYSE:SI) is one of the largest global electronics and engineering companies with reported worldwide sales of $96 billion in fiscal 2005. Founded nearly 160 years ago, the company is a leader in the areas of Medical, Power, Automation and Control, Transportation, Information and Communications, Lighting, Building Technologies, Water Technologies and Services and Home Appliances.  With its U.S. corporate headquarters in New York City, Siemens in the U.S. has sales of $18.8 billion and employs approximately 70,000 people throughout all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Eleven of Siemens' worldwide businesses are based in the United States. With its global headquarters in Munich, Siemens AG and its subsidiaries employ 460,000 people in 190 countries.  For more information on Siemens in the United States:

About Earthpark

Earthpark is organized as a not for profit entity, governed by a 23-person board of directors chaired by former Iowa Governor Robert Ray. Business leaders, educators, scientists, philanthropists, and former state government leaders serve on the Earthpark Board.  Earthpark’s education elements have been mapped by a national Education Design Team. A Science Team has begun forming recommendations for appropriate research opportunities at Earthpark. It is estimated that up to one million visitors will experience Earthpark annually, with additional millions leaning from its website: Earthpark will create 500 construction jobs for three years, more than 150 permanent jobs, and some 2,000 indirect jobs; its annual economic impact has been measured at $130 million.

Ken Aurichio
Tel.: 212-258-4589
Public Relations Manager
Siemens Corporation