Grinnell College Receives a 2020 Community Enhancement through Architecture & Design Award from the Iowa Architectural Foundation

September 23, 2020

Iowa Architectural Foundation (IAF) is honoring two recipients, John & Mary Pappajohn of Des Moines and Grinnell College, with its Community Enhancement Through Architecture & Design Awards for 2020. The program recognizes those individuals, organizations, agencies, or communities outside the architectural profession who have demonstrated consistent and effective leadership, vision, and support for architecture, or have repeatedly championed the cause of architecture or acted as a benefactor of architecture and urban design, all of which has contributed to the betterment of Iowa communities. Quality architecture and urban design can play a big part in making communities more livable - affecting our environment, sustainability, health, culture, identity, and economy. 

The selection process included a statewide call for entries and selection by five jurors, including architects and community leaders Rob Whitehead, AIA, ISU; Jessica Rowe, The Des Moines Public Art Foundation; Janis Ruan; Thomas Leslie, AIA, ISU; and Jeff Shaffer, AIA, BNIM. 

Grinnell was selected for the institution’s outstanding and sustained contributions, vision, and leadership in architecture and planning for more than 50 years. The jury said, “Grinnell has reached out over time to create an incredible collection of buildings – which is different than something done episodically. There is a commitment to excellence and quality, and it takes a great deal more dedication and perseverance to maintain that sort of course. It’s what sets a neighborhood or a campus apart.” 

Going back to the 1960’s, Grinnell College has consistently sought to employ some of the best American architects to add to what was already an idyllic campus. For example, Walter Netsch of the Chicago firm SOM was hired in 1961 to design the first portion of what was to become the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts. In 1999, the college hired Cesar Pelli and Associates (New Haven) to add on to this International Style building. The Pelli firm also designed the Joe Rosenfield 25 Center and the Bear Athletic and Fitness Center, which was created in conjunction with Sasaki Associates (Boston) on the north end of campus. In 1999, the college employed Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott (Boston), to create a campus master plan that has been more recently updated by OPN Architects (Des Moines, Cedar Rapids). Over the past twelve years the college has executed four extraordinary buildings, all within the context of this master plan. Just completed is Grinnell’s stunning Humanities and Social Studies Center (HSSC) designed by EYP Architects (Raleigh, Washington DC & NY), in which flexible and adaptable design fosters working synergies among students and faculty by supporting active, collaborative learning. The keystone of the design is an expansive addition that unifies, and greatly adds to, two landmark buildings – the 1917 Alumni Recitation Hall, and the 1905 Carnegie Hall – to create an immersive, tech-rich environment.  

The Iowa Architectural Foundation is a charitable organization founded in 1989 to promote the awareness and appreciation of architecture and design. The nonprofit pursues its mission through youth and adult educational/outreach programs, community design charrettes, architectural walking tours, an annual lecture series, and more. 

The public is invited to join IAF for the Community Enhancement for Architecture & Design Awards free virtual celebration on Tues., Oct. 20, 2020 at 5:30 p.m. The celebration will honor the winners of the 2020 awards, featuring personal interviews with the recipients as well as video, drone, and still photography that tells the story of their contributions to the Iowa landscape. Registration for this virtual event is on Eventbrite. 

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