The Iowa State University Innovation Center was originally planned as an engineering building. But architects at KieranTimberlake worked with university planners and stakeholders to repurpose the project into a multi-use facility for design leaders, builders and entrepreneurs. The result is a building designed for flex use space as well as fixed programming for students from multiple disciplines.

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Front-facing view of the student center

The five-story building is a unique size for the university. Therefore, it must fulfill multiple purposes. The facility boasts an impressive curtain wall of glass panels that ripple from flat panels to a chevron pattern that protrudes outward at intervals. These windows then reflect that outside scene that still shows the area’s agricultural history, including the historic Marston Water Tower and framing open sky angles for a one-of-a-kind effect.

Related: This healthcare center maximizes energy use and greenery

View of the pleated facade

This facade is more than window dressing. In fact, the facade geometry was considered by the designers to optimize passive rejection of solar heat gain without using window shades. This reduces energy consumption by one-third.

Early morning or evening sky behind the student center

The building is 146,000 square feet and filled with flexible loft spaces. The space is designed to support interdisciplinary experimentation, prototyping and fabrication. Concrete was used to create spaces that will be safe for future use as maker spaces and for working with materials such as plastic, textiles and electronics.

A classroom with full glass windows and bright natural light

There are 13 meeting rooms, a gallery and lounge, a cafe, and even co-working and event spaces.

The thought that went into planning the building and grand facade clearly serve a purpose to make the building more efficient both regarding energy use and for making the most of the space for cross-functional purposes. Many campuses have started to think more about interdisciplinary hands-on teaching and entrepreneurial programs, and this building reflects that industry-leading thought leadership.

+ KieranTimberlake

Images via Peter Aaron