Dr. Norman E. Borlaug

Neighborhood Utility Box: It’s a Wrap

September 17, 2012  |   Feature
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Mark Kane, former Garden Editor of Better Homes and Gardens, who lives in the Ingersoll Neighborhood in Des Moines, Iowa , explained, “Here’s the story. A group of neighbors came together and converted the traffic circle at 44th and Harwood into a garden. Today it looks great and serves to inspire other neighborhood associations.”

In late summer 2011, Kane proposed that his neighborhood “add art to the garden and went to the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation to proposed the idea.” Attached to a pole and hovering over the garden circle was a grey utility box which became a ‘blank canvas’ for this project.


After GREATER DES MOINES PUBLIC ART FOUNDATION approved the design, it advanced the project by securing permission from Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) to wrap their (telemetry) box located on the traffic circle. Neighborhood funds were leveraged, graphic design services donated, and Beeline+Blue, the company which printed and installed the dramatic images, also made a contribution.

Kane’s composition of large-scale colorful photographs magnified contrasting plant details. Individual photographs (i.e., hot-magenta peony flowers, azure blue-leaved hostas, and emerald-green ferns) covered each side of the utility box. Photo by Mark Kane

The neighbors and community partners were impressed. “Today, the utility box signals to drivers, joggers, walkers, everyone who passes, that the circle is a special place, slow down, take a look,” boasts Kane.

The Ingersoll Neighborhood utility box is the second box to be wrapped in Des Moines, the prototype was completed in March 2011 at Polk Boulevard and University Avenue. Photo by Mark Kane