A Century of Iowa Architecture on display at ISU Oct. 3-28

AMES, Iowa -- Considering the many connections between Iowa State University and Iowa's finest architecture, the campus arrival of the traveling exhibit, "A Century of Iowa Architecture, 1900-1999," will be something of a homecoming.

ISU's College of Design will host the exhibit Oct. 3-28. It features photographs of the 50 buildings considered the best of Iowa's 20th-century architecture. They were selected last year by a jury in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the Iowa chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

The buildings were selected from 300 nominated. Five buildings -- including one award winner -- were selected from each decade. Buildings had to be located in Iowa, still standing and designed by an architect. They were judged on original design criteria and societal and cultural impact.

Final selections are a mix of buildings by internationally known architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and Frank Gehry, and by leading Iowa practitioners, including many ISU architecture graduates and faculty.

The exhibit has several Iowa State ties:

  • ISU's Stephens Auditorium was selected the best of the best as the "Building of the Century." Former architecture faculty member Ray Crites and professor emeritus of architecture Howard Heemstra were involved in its design.
  • Mark Engelbrecht, College of Design dean, designed the University of Northern Iowa's Maucker Union Building, considered one of the best buildings of the 1960s.
  • Architecture professor and chair Cal Lewis was a designer on the Meredith Corporation headquarters expansion, a top pick for the 1990s.
  • ISU's Agronomy Hall expansion and remodeling was one of the best of the 1980s.
  • Faculty or alumni were architects on 11 of the exhibit's 20 buildings built since 1960, including the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines.
  • The exhibit itself was largely curated by two faculty members. Jason Alread, assistant professor of architecture, chaired the Iowa AIA Architecture of the Century committee that oversaw the three-year project. He also wrote the text for the exhibit's companion book. Cameron Campbell, assistant professor of architecture and art and design, was the architectural photographer and exhibit designer/fabricator. After a year of preparation, he spent most of a summer traveling the state, photographing the selected buildings. Both Alread and Campbell were part of Iowa Public Television's 2004 documentary, "A Century of Architecture," as well.
  • Students in assistant architecture professor Dan Naegele's Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School seminar built physical models of Prairie School buildings included in the exhibit. They worked with building owners to secure drawings, take measurements and gather documentation to construct accurate models.
  • Robert Findlay, AIA fellow and professor emeritus of architecture at Iowa State, was one of the jurors, along with former Iowa Gov. Robert Ray; Chuck Offenburger, former Des Moines Register columnist; Eliot Nusbaum, editor at Traditional Home magazine; and Bob Broshar, AIA fellow and former national AIA president.

"A Century of Iowa Architecture" was unveiled last October at the State Historical Museum in Des Moines. It has appeared in Waterloo, Sioux City and Dubuque. In January, it travels to Mason City.

The exhibit will be in Gallery 181, first floor of the College of Design building. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The exhibit closes at noon, Oct. 28. An opening reception will be 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 4, in Gallery 181. The exhibit and reception are free and open to the public. Signed copies of the 112-page companion book by Alread and Campbell will be available for $20 (cash or checks only) during the reception or afterwards in 134 Design.