Grinnell College Board of Trustees Approves Construction of the Civic Engagement Quad Core Project

October 06, 2022

At the conclusion of the fall board meeting on Oct. 1, 2022, the Grinnell College Board of Trustees approved the Civic Engagement Quad (CEQ) Core Project. The CEQ presents a distinctive model for student residential living, education and development. Opening in the fall of 2024, the building will sit at the southwest corner of Sixth Avenue and Broad Street in Grinnell, offering an apartment-style living option at the intersection of campus and downtown for Grinnell College students. The first floor of the CEQ south tower will be home to a pavilion that is dedicated to civic innovation. Members of the College and the larger Grinnell community can gather in that space for dialogue, exchange, and collaborative brainstorming on community engagement work, which has been a long tradition at the College. 

Initial plans for the four-story CEQ include 125,000 square feet of living, programming, and civic engagement spaces. The planned 28 student apartments will provide a leading-edge residential experience for 110 students.

President Anne F. Harris shared, “We present our deep thanks and admiration to globally renowned Sir David Adjaye and Adjaye Associates, especially Russell Crader and the team that he led in partnerships with staff, students, and faculty throughout the past three years of planning.” 

In the coming weeks, a public presentation will share further details and information about this transformative project, including views of the apartments and communal living spaces. The College will also share models of the biophilic green spaces, which are designed to enhance well-being and distributed throughout the building, including a two-story green wall. This presentation will also recap the community-based design process of the past three years, which involved students, staff, faculty, and community members, as well as the project’s financing structure, which underwent a rigorous vetting process in its distributed design and is separate from the College's operating budget.  

In anticipation of the planning to come, the CEQ Experiences Working Group will meet regularly during the next two years to help shape the residential experience and programming.  

Civic Benefits 

The CEQ is poised to expand architectural, educational and community discourse beyond Des Moines and the capital cities of the Midwest to Grinnell, Iowa. The CEQ offers an opportunity to invest in the values that have endured and defined Grinnell College and the city of Grinnell: intellectual engagement, individual and community empowerment, the creation and advancement of knowledge, and the enactment of institutional and societal change.   

“It is an investment in the power of place and an enduring commitment to the common good. Like many of Adjaye’s past projects, including the Smithsonian Museum of African American History in Washington, D.C., the CEQ will become a destination. In doing so, it can support local businesses and entrepreneurs in achieving their goals. It can bring visitors and new investment to downtown Grinnell,” added Harris. 

Educational Benefits 

The CEQ is consciously designed to foster collaboration and promote civic trust between campus and community members. The space can contribute to the existing relationships between the College and community and supports students in their civic engagement work and learning. Students and their faculty, staff, and community partners can engage in consensus-building and collaboration to discern how to pilot and establish new ways of addressing common challenges.  

“The mission of the College has remained at the forefront of this project since its conception. And an essential and distinctive part of Grinnell College’s core mission is preparing students to address current and future challenges. To do this effectively requires structures and places to create trust and to co-imagine (with) our community. I am honored to be a part of this esteemed community of people who continue to inspire coalition building – I look forward to the enduring work ahead as we build towards the future,” says Harris.

CEQ Ariel View
An aerial design photo (courtesy of Adjaye Associates) shows how the CEQ would be inserted with nearby existing buildings. The back of McNally’s Foods and the Jimmy John’s can been seen to the left of the CEQ while the First Interstate Bank is on the right across Broad Street.  Photo courtesy of Adjaye Associates

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