ISU architecture students study sustainable development in Berlin during June

AMES, Iowa - A group of architecture students from the Iowa State University College of Design is in Berlin this month studying issues of climate change and sustainable urban development.

The 11 Iowa State students are involved in Summer Academy Berlin, a monthlong program founded in 2006 as a collaboration between the Beuth Berlin University of Applied Sciences and Pratt Institute, New York. This year's program began May 29 and will conclude with an exhibition featuring students' work on June 30 in Berlin. This is the first year Iowa State has been involved in the academy, and ISU is the only school with both graduate and undergraduate participants.

The academy's goal is to gain a better understanding of the complexity of sustainable development and "the very pressing issues of climate change adaptation and mitigations in an urban environment and scale," said Ulrike Passe, ISU assistant professor of architecture and director of the university's Center for Building Energy Research. Passe is the program director for the Iowa State student group and was involved in the development of this year's summer academy.

The program "brings together students from different institutions and disciplines to discuss sustainable urban development and develop concepts and design approaches for building typologies to support such development," she said.

Students will examine the hotly contested waterfront development along the Spree River in Berlin and propose new strategies that better address present demands as well as future needs. The group from Pratt will provide a comparison with the East River waterfront in New York, a city threatened by sea-level rise.

Students will also visit Hamburg's former port area, which is undergoing major redevelopment into a residential and commercial quarter, and the site of the International Building Exhibition 2013, located on an island between the northern and southern branches of the Elbe River.

"Sustainable design bridges many disciplines, and this program will give our architecture students the unique opportunity to benefit from working with planning students with an urban background and also learn from the German precedents," Passe said.

The program includes design charrettes, research seminars, site tours, lectures and discussions related to sustainable urban development, climate-change adaptation, waterfront development, contemporary green architecture and German urban planning policies. The students are also exposed to German language, history and culture through classes and site visits.

Those participating from ISU include graduate students Kirk Foulkrod, Columbia, Mo.; Chase Kramer, Sioux Falls, S.D., and Carl Laegreid, Hastings, Neb.; and undergraduate students Tyler Baumgarten, Knoxville; Jessica Bruck, Zwingle; Clark Colby, Urbandale; John Crispin, Davenport; Thomas Dillman, Lake Geneva, Wis.; Kristen Greteman, Carroll; Steven Holmes, Ankeny, and Travis Johnson, Clinton.

"The best way to understand architecture is to experience all different kinds of architecture," Kramer said. "Berlin and Germany offer a unique perspective on design and architecture. And of great benefit is the new cultural experience, to see how other people view their world and their place within the world.

"I hope to take the knowledge I gain from this program and adapt it to other cities in the U.S., including my own hometown of Sioux Falls, which is currently undergoing a major waterfront/downtown redevelopment," he said.

Other schools participating this year include the University of California at Berkeley, Port City University of Hamburg, and the Institute for Sustainable Construction and Design at the Kaiserslautern University of Applied Sciences, Kaiserslautern, Germany.

More information on the Summer Academy Berlin is online at