The roadside stop you make this holiday weekend could offer far more than comfort and a new roadmap. The state’s winding up construction of a series of new welcome centers designed in collaboration with the state’s artistic and cultural agencies. Mark Masteller is chief landscape architect at the state transportation department. He says it offers the same features and services of a traditional rest area, but instead of one building with tourist brochures, another with restrooms and vending machines somewhere else, it’s all together. And the single building may feature artwork and other additions that will make it an attractive stop that features a part of the state’s heritage. Though it looks “embellished,” he says all the stops have a functional component. Masteller says when travelers drive through Iowa, sometimes the rest stop is the only thing they’ll see on their trip to give them an impression of the state. He says the visitor’s center at the Dows exit off Interstate 35 is just the latest designed by a team of architects, planners…and an artist. Masteller says others in the series have been built near Sioux City with a Lewis and Clark theme, by Davenport with decor featuring the river and lock-and-dam system there, Cedar County’s underground railroad and many more.
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