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Rainbow River


Client:  Normal School District

Location:  Colene Hoose Elementary School      

600  Grandview, Normal, Illinois 61761      

(309) 557-4414 

Call for information about access.

Size:  642 square feet

Budget: $256,000installed

Technique: LithoMosaics

Completion date: 2022/2023



Renowned natural playgrounds Landscape Architect Helle Nebelong contacted me via Facebook, and asked only, “Can you do Illinois?”  

“Yes,” I said.


The result is a 642 square foot LithoMosaic Rainbow River with the largest natural playground in the USA.  Privately funded by billionaire Charlie Jobson, who grew up in the neighborhood, he conceived of and gifted $5 million for this 19 acre park “that looks like a plateful of cookies,” to honor his parents and the community.  


A natural playground is an adventure playground.  It's kid and climate and environmentally sensitive - so no plastic or resins or toxins - but lots of trees and stumps and logs and boulders and aesthetics - all arranged with consideration for maximum fun, exercise and exploration.  While our work is finished, the full park will not open until 2023.  



Helle’s plan for our part was for the students to fulfill the assignment, “If I was a fish I would look like this.” We received over 400 drawings, of which about half we enlarged by hand and translated into glass, shells, stone and porcelain tile, for her amoeba-shaped Rainbow River.  It is gorgeous and a blast and the first LithoMosaic in Illinois.



Philanthropist - Charlie Jobson   USA

Concept and Landscape Architect - Helle Nebelong Denmark General Contractor - Adam Bienstock, Bienstock Natural Playgrounds   Canada

Fabrication - Brailsford Public Art with Robin Brailsford as Lead   USA

Installation - TB Penick   USA

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