It’s a building worthy of hosting international dignitaries. The World Food Prize Hall of Laureates in downtown was a showcased again last week, as the organization held its annual Borlaug Dialogue symposium and ceremony to honor three prize laureates for their work to genetically modify plants. A Vatican cardinal, a former prime minister and the president of Iceland attended as well as some of the world’s top scientific minds. 

The renovated hall, built at the turn of the 20th century as Beaux Arts-style public library and remodeled  in 2011 to the tune of $30 million to become a green building of the 21st century, is also available to rent for conferences, weddings and other events.  Nicole Barreca, an events coordinator for the organization, said the building or individual rooms are rented about 100 times a year for dinners, weddings and receptions. Guided tours also are available three times a day on Tuesdays.

1. The second floor of the rotunda features a 20-foot stained glass 
window that depicts a family bringing in the harvest. 

2. Four murals at the top of the rotunda depict scenes from Norman 
Borlaug’s life. One shows his boyhood home near Cresco. Another 
depicts an agricultural scene in Mexico, where he developed his 
miracle wheat. The remaining murals are scenes from India and 
Pakistan where Borlaug’s agricultural methods saved millions of lives 
and from Africa, where he worked during the later years of his life. 

3. The tops of rotunda columns gleam with gold leaf. 

4. The skylight over the rotunda is original. The Stained Glass Store 
in Des Moines cleaned, polished and repaired 10,000 pieces of glass 
to renovate the skylight. A Munich, Germany company designed the 
skylight and created stained glass windows that can be found in 
many churches across Iowa. 

5.  Each of the four corner columns of the rotunda features a metal 
grain sculpture of one of the four primary crops that feed the world: 
wheat, rice, corn and soy.