An authentic pavilion representing thousands of years of Chinese culture now sits across the Des Moines River from the modern new sports arena in downtown Des Moines. The Chinese pavilion unveiled today (Tuesday) is the first piece in what will be known as the “Robert Ray Asian Gardens,” honoring the former Iowa governor.
David Hurd, the former chairman of the Principal Financial Group, and his wife are two of the private donors to the project. Hurd says one of the things that has motivated them is thought that “in a small way this could be a step toward world peace.” Hurd says the pavilion represents the U.S. reaching a hand out across the sea to others.
Hurd says it’s only appropriate that the Asian Gardens be named for former Governor Ray. Hurd says it was Ray who in the 1970’s arranged to save many of the Asian boat people by bringing them to Iowa. Paul Shao is president of the Chinese Cultural Center of America, and the architect who designed the three-tiered structure. Shoa says the pavilion is a direct model of an imperial palace that he hopes touches Iowans. He says he wants people to experience an authentic piece of China without having to travel there.
Shoa says he wants to “stimulate the brotherhood and sisterhood of humankind. We want peace and prosperity between these two countries.” Shoa spoke with reporters in front of the pavilion and says a major addition is still in the works. Shoa told reporters they were standing on water as a pond will be built in front of the pavilion with waterfalls flowing underneath the structure. Shoa says they want to “activate the flow of energy, which is the river.”
Shoa says the only thing holding back the completion of the gardens is money. Shoa says they need about 300-thousand dollars more after spending about one-point-six million dollars. He says the original budget was 800-thousand dollars, but the Corps of Engineers wanted them to put the pillars down to the bedrock of the river.
Shoa says the additional depth of the pillars should protect the structure in the river floods. The top of the pavilion is red and has several small animals on top that Shoa says are “divine deities” to bring good luck.