Back when Ken Smith took classes in design and fine arts at Iowa State, he never dreamed that one day his artistic vision would be shown in New York at the Museum of Modern Art. Or, more accurately, on top of it.

The Iowa State alum and landscape architect was chosen to create MoMA’s Roof Garden. It’s a brilliantly original work of art, using white gravel, recycled black rubber, crushed glass, and artificial boxwood plants in a camouflage pattern. His inspiration: a pair of skateboarder’s pants.

Ken also designed the Elevated Acre, a one-acre urban plaza with a sloping topography of planted dunes and an elevated view of New York Harbor. This summer, Ken’s groundbreaking creations were awarded the prestigious Christian Petersen Design Award.

Finding amazingly successful people like Ken Smith coming from Iowa State isn’t that unusual. That’s because here, students enjoy unlimited opportunities that allow them to turn their interests into personal adventures. It might be discovering a new formula for rocket fuel, unearthing an ancient civilization, or writing the next great American novel.

Most recently, Ken is transforming an urban landscape closer to home, lending downtown Des Moines his vision for a redesigned Nollen Plaza.