A Shift in the Stream

Art Type
Media / Materials
Year Completed
Collection of Principal Financial Group, Des Moines, Iowa
Latitude & Longitude
41.589858, -93.627334
Location Description
Located at Principal Corporate 4 Lobby. —Please note that public art tours are not available at this time, as per Principal Financial Group, 04/14/16.

A Shift in the Stream

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At the beginning of 1995, nationally renowned artist, sculptor and architect Maya Lin (known for her design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial) was invited by the Principal Financial Group to create a work of art in conjunction with the construction of a new building on its corporate campus. The title of the work, A Shift in the Stream, refers to the many small streams of water located on the second and third floors and the single stream of water running down a two-story-high glass wall in the building’s lobby. Trickles of water are then collected at the bottom and routed along the lobby wall through a trough behind a long, jagged opening. The “shift” is both in the architecture of the building and, conceptually, in a space that marks the transition from the workspace to the personal space of everyday life.

"As you walk closer to the wall, you hear the soft murmur of a continuous stream of water flowing in the wall's crevice, into which you can just fit your hand to touch the water... The integration of the artwork with its site is seamless, yet it is a subtle intrusion. I see the work as a subversion of the architectural space. It has also led me to a new group of sculptures that will be a series of landscape reliefs cut directly into the walls."

Maya Lin