University Ames, Iowa, USA
Serving as a central hub for all students of Iowa State, the new Student Innovation Center by KieranTimberlake with Substance Architecture takes “making” as its inspiration and boasts a sustainable design that includes a facade developed by solar analysis.
For its programmatic and sustainable design, Student Innovation Center Iowa State has recently been awarded a 2022 American Architecture Award and a 2022 International Architecture Awards Honorable Mention by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.
How can an interdisciplinary building empower students to innovate through collaborative exploration while remaining flexible to changes in technology and pedagogy?
This 140,000-square-foot building is a centralized resource serving all nine colleges that comprise a major public university in the North American Midwest.
Iowa State University is a public, land-grant university known for its strong engineering programs and commitment to hands-on learning.
To further strengthen its multidisciplinary culture of innovation, the University needed a high-quality, centralized space for undergraduate students to explore ideas outside the bounds of conventional curricular structures.
The Student Innovation Center provides a flexible, dynamic space that encourages around-the-clock experimentation, collaboration, and free exchange of ideas.
The building was conceived as a university-wide facility that would allow each college to explore the role that “making” plays in innovation within their individual disciplines.
The building is open to all 36,000+ students at the university and represents a shift in campus-wide pedagogy away from traditional passive learning toward a hands-on, interactive teaching model.
The project is without precedent and required a rigorous, probative programming process to determine what the building should be.
A series of focus groups resulted in each College identifying what their students “make” (from music to food to business plans) and, in turn, what spaces and equipment would facilitate these activities.
The building becomes a container that is filled with an evolving set of “maker” spaces ranging from metal, wood, and composite fabrication shops to a test kitchen, café, retail outlet, and a rooftop garden.
Innovative teaching formats are supported with flexible, technology-enabled classrooms in unique formats found nowhere else on campus.
Finally, gallery space was included to display the results of “making” campus-wide.
The building’s program is intended to evolve. The simple structure frames a series of flexible, loft-like spaces that can be reconfigured over time.
The interior finishes are rough, and the systems are exposed to further accommodate change.
The building’s exterior, however, is fixed—wrapped in an undulating glass skin that appears to move around the form.
These undulations, resulting from solar analysis, reduce the building’s solar heat gain while providing panoramic views out to the surrounding campus and inward to a central courtyard.
The building’s daylight is harvested to further reduce energy consumption and the mechanical systems employ additional energy-saving strategies.
As a result, the facility is anticipating LEED Gold Certification—communicating to students and faculty that innovation is, by necessity, sustainable.
Project: Student Innovation Center Iowa State
Design Team: James Timberlake David Riz Laurent Hedquist Jason Ciotti-Niebish Philip Baraldi David Rariden Cheryl Hu, and Frannie Bower
Associate Architects: Substance Architecture
General Contractor: JE Dunn Construction
Client: Iowa State University
Photographers: Peter Aaron, OTTO