Design on Main connects ISU College of Design with Ames community

Main St design facility

College of Design opens the door to Ames community in new Main Street facility. Photo by Bob Elbert.

AMES, Iowa — The Iowa State University College of Design is joining Main Street with a satellite facility for classes, exhibitions and community outreach.

The college’s newest venture — Design on Main — occupies about 7,000 square feet of the former Antique Ames antiques mall in the Main Street Cultural District. The space encompasses the east side of the lower level (203 Main) and both sides of the upper level (205 Main) of the more than 130-year-old brick building.

Student painting

IVA grad student Stephanie Willett in new Main Street studio. Photo by Bob Elbert.

The facility provides upstairs studio space for 20 graduate students in the integrated visual arts (IVA) program and a small gallery space to showcase artwork and other projects at street level. The college is deciding how it will use the rest of the building, but it could house new master’s degree programs, faculty research or community design projects, said Mike Miller, College of Design director of operations.

“The college benefits in several ways,” Miller said. “This solves some space issues as we grow; we may move existing programs to Main Street, which frees up space on campus, or start new programs downtown.

“It also allows us to be more connected with the community,” he said. “Many of our classes work directly with Iowa communities. The first floor gives us a way to share what we do with a wider audience.”

The college will host an open house at Design on Main during the Octagon Art Festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23. Visitors can tour the facility and view artwork and design projects by College of Design students and faculty. Graduate visual arts students also will give public painting demonstrations, and staff will be available to answer questions.

“Through this College of Design initiative, the whole university becomes more visible in the Ames community,” said Design Dean Luis Rico-Gutierrez. “We believe our success is linked to the success of the community. We welcome residents to learn more about what we do, and we’re eager to learn more about how our research, outreach and creative activities can contribute to the vitality of downtown, of Ames and of Iowa.”

IVA grad seminar.

IVA grad seminar in new facility. Photo by Bob Elbert.

The IVA program is excited to be the first tenant in the new location and pioneer the college’s presence downtown, said C. Arthur Croyle, associate professor and program director, who leads a graduate critique seminar at the facility.

“It’s an opportunity for graduate students to develop an identity and be a part of the larger arts community,” Croyle said. “They will gain a higher profile as well as experience interacting with the public and curating their work for display.”

Croyle also anticipates opportunities for collaboration with other college programs. “I can’t wait to see what other units move in and how we’ll work together. I think this is a good catalyst to cross traditional departmental lines and reconsider our relationship with one another,” he said.

“We’ll all be in the same place, surrounded by the city, which should foster some interesting collaborations and new opportunities to engage the community.”