The World Food Prize Foundation

Experience the History

Building view from bridgeExperience the History

Designed in the classic Beaux-Arts style at the end of the 19th century as an element of the “City Beautiful” movement to enhance cities nationwide, the cornerstone for the Des Moines Public Library was laid in 1900.

The doors opened in 1903, and throughout the 20th century, this building served as a library and cultural center for public use.

After nearly 100 years, the library outgrew the building and announced it would move to a new location.

In 2000, businessman John Ruan III kicked off a capital campaign to transform the building into the World Food Prize headquarters.

View of building architecture​​​​​​​Iowa Architectural Treasure

Led by its president, Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, the World Food Prize Foundation began the transformation of this architectural gem in 2009, giving it a new purpose for the next hundred years - to carry on the legacy of Dr. Norman E. Borlaug and the World Food Prize laureates, and to fulfill the vision of John Ruan Sr. to make Iowa the hunger-fighting capital of the world.

This magnificent edifice now serves as the home of the Foundation as it continues its efforts to inspire people from around the world in the struggle to end hunger.

In addition, in keeping with Dr. Borlaug’s interest in sustainability, the Hall of Laureates was designed to achieve LEED Platinum certification for energy efficiency, the highest possible rating, which is almost unheard of in historic buildings.

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