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Above: Des Moines Municipal Service Center




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Inside MBI's hard hat

Thursday, April 20, 2017

by Project Manager Matt Davis

In 2012, I participated in Master Builders of Iowa’s MB EYE on the Future leadership training. Every year, each class is given a team project to complete during the six month course to develop our leadership skills. Our class was tasked with developing, designing, orchestrating fabrication of and installing a sculpture in honor of Master Builder of Iowa’s 100th anniversary. We set off to develop an idea for a sculpture that would hold a time capsule with common construction industry tools of the trade at the time enclosed.

First we had to determine where to place the time capsule – inside or outside and the specific location.  Once we decided it would be placed outside we were challenged to come up with a design that would stand the test of time, could be moved if required, allow us to retrieve the time capsule without damaging the sculpture and protect the contents from the elements.

We worked with Themescapes Inc., a company out of Minnesota, to develop the idea and came up with the hand carved concrete hard hat design. Our Neumann team had recently finished the sea lion exhibit at the Blank Park Zoo with Themescapes so the timing was perfect!


The sculpture was designed then hand carved from a foam block. Concrete was strategically placed over the foam and the sculpture was hand formed to create the exterior features. It was then painted to appear as if it was carved out of a large boulder with a chisel and a hammer. Once cured, the foam was removed leaving a void in the rock for the time capsule box.

To support the structure, Neumann Brothers and CTI Ready Mix donated the labor and material to form and pour the concrete pad. Finally, with the capsule safely tucked inside, the sculpture was installed on the concrete pad.  

As a group, we selected and placed the following items in the time capsule:

1.    A new hand miter box

2.    A tee handle for an acetylene tank

3.    A tool for breaking off allen ties in plywood forms

4.    Scale Master roller wheel

5.    Flash Drive

6.    Ruler Scale

7.    Blackberry Cell phone

8.    Computer Modem

9.    Laptop

10.  LEED product samples

11.  ENR Magazine-top 400 contractors

12.  Digital camera

13.  Computer mouse

14.  Equipment brochures w/pricing

15.  AIA contract

16.  List of material prices

17.  Blackberry storm 2

18.  Rotary Laser

19.  MBI Masters award DVD

20.  Construction Calculator

On June 15, 2012, a ceremony was held to dedicate the sculpture and in 2062, the group will lift up the sculpture and open the time capsule. Things have already changed at lightning speed over the past five years – it’s going to be interesting to see what things are like in another 45!