Iowa State University Student Innovation Center

Location
Ames, Iowa
Year
2020
Size
140,000 SF

Client
Iowa State University

Project Team
David Gosnell
Paul Mankins
Leah Rudolphi

Iowa State University Student Innovation Center – Substance Architecture
Iowa State University Student Innovation Center – Substance Architecture

Iowa State University Student Innovation Center

Widely known for its diverse collection of academic programs and commitment to hands-on learning, Iowa State University wanted to develop a center for innovation and entrepreneurship that would serve as a physical manifestation of its commitment to "Innovate at Iowa State". The challenge was to create a flexible, dynamic space that encourages experimentation, collaboration, and the free exchange of ideas across all students, regardless of major. ISU wanted the Student Innovation Center (SICTR) centrally located and designed to allow each college to explore the role “making” plays in innovation within their individual disciplines, marking a shift towards a more hands-on, interactive teaching model.

Along with design partner KieranTimberlake, Substance Architecture addressed these challenges in collaboration with, and a shared and steadfast commitment to, the project's vision. The SICTR, with its 140,000 square feet of classroom, lab, and collaborative space quickly became an iconic symbol of innovation. Its undulating glass facade, developed through solar and energy performance studies, controls heat and optimizes natural light, all while allowing panoramic views of the campus and a glimpse inward to the building’s various activities. The inclusion of a green roof, a glassblowing studio, and a student-run retail store and cafe further accentuates the building's multifunctionality.

Location
Ames, Iowa
Year
2020
Size
140,000 SF

Client
Iowa State University

Project Team
David Gosnell
Paul Mankins
Leah Rudolphi

The Student Innovation Center’s “maker space” serves the University’s more than 30,000 students. Its immediate popularity, attracting students from across campus, supports and symbolizes a shift in teaching theory away from passive learning toward hands-on, interactive instruction, and recognizes the central role “making” has in innovation across disciplines.

Developing a Cutting-Edge Facade

Just as the SICTR aims to inspire innovation through experimentation and collaboration, the design and installation of the building’s unique, custom wedge-shaped glass façade required a spirit of innovation. The unitized façade was fabricated off-site with each “pleat” comprised of two-4’ wide glass panels. These accordion from flat to angled across the face of the building. The south-facing panels are insulated to reduce heat gain while still allowing natural light into the space. This design was the result of exploration, excellence in engineering, and trial and error—not to mention extensive testing. The SICTR's pleated glass facade is more than an architectural feature—it embodies the University's dedication to innovation and sustainability.

“I love being at the Student Innovation Center because the architecture provides a beautiful open concept with natural lighting and tons of places to study. The student-centered spaces always feel inviting and inspire me to continue learning on campus.”

Jack Harris, Senior in Environmental Science

Interdisciplinary Collaboration and Creativity

To further define the University’s vision for this student-focused building, ISU assembled a steering committee comprised of representatives from each of the six undergraduate colleges and the student body, tasked with establishing the program for this building. The design team led this group through a series of data-driven exercises to identify desired spaces and uses and how the building should “feel”. This group also developed a common set of goals and values at the outset which guided the project throughout design and construction. The steering committee’s vision for the building was a “patchwork quilt”—a diverse mix of spaces and functions found nowhere else on campus, intentionally arranged to foster learning, exploration, collaboration, and “creative collisions”.

Iowa State University Student Innovation Center – Substance Architecture

Site plan

Iowa State University Student Innovation Center – Substance Architecture

Floor plans

Iowa State University Student Innovation Center – Substance Architecture

Concept analogs

Sustainability and Building Performance

Despite the building’s glass façade and high energy demands of the maker spaces—including a glassblowing studio furnace—the project achieved LEED Gold® certification. The pleated exterior façade accepts or rejects solar gain based on the angle of the pleat. Inside, the diverse range of uses including glassblowing, welding, woodworking, and culinary pursuits require complex venting and fire protection systems. The building is heated and cooled utilizing the campus chilled water and steam, coupled with pressurized plenums which maintain air quality and regulate temperatures. 

 

The air supply system recovers energy to minimize peak heating and cooling loads and overall energy use. In addition, low-flow plumbing fixtures, daylight harvesting, and energy-efficient lighting with daylight dimming and occupancy control contribute to the building’s performance. The building also features a green roof which acts as an insulator and decreases the building’s impervious footprint to reduce runoff. The project also includes below-grade stormwater detention facilities.

"The Student Innovation Center establishes Iowa State University as the destination campus for innovation and entrepreneurship. Here, students, faculty, and staff can create innovative products and collaborate with others to bring new ideas to the marketplace. I see the Student Innovation Center as a bright beacon for all of those innovators and entrepreneurs captivated by creativity and yearning to bring their new ideas to life. This center will serve as the home base for every student who wants to experience our brand, Innovate at Iowa State.”

Dr. Wendy Wintersteen, Iowa State University President

Consultants

Design Architect
KieranTimberlake with Substance Architecture
Architect of Record
Substance Architecture
MEPT Engineer
IMEG
Structural Engineer
KPFF
Civil Engineer
Snyder & Associates, Inc.
Construction Manager
JE Dunn Construction
Enclosure Consultant
WJ Higgins
Green Roof
Roofmeadow
Life-Safety Consultant
Jensen Hughes
Food Service Consultant
Bakergroup
Sustainability Consultant
C-Wise Design and Consulting LLC
Elevator Consultant
Learch Bates
Concrete Contractor
Ceco Concrete Construction

Awards

2022 Silver Medal
American Institute of Architects - Pennsylvania Chapter
2022 American Architecture Award
The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture & Design and The European Centre Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies
2022 International Architecture Awards - Honorable Mention
The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture & Design and The European Centre Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies
2022 Finalist, WAF Completed Buildings: Higher Education and Research
World Architecture Festival Awards
2022 The Plan Awards - Finalist
The Plan
2021 Excellence in Design - Merit Award
American Institute of Architects - Tri-State Chapter
2021 Excellence in Design - Merit Award
American Institute of Architects - Philadelphia
2021 Midwest Best Project-Higher Education/Research (with IMEG)
Engineering News-Record
2021 Excellence in Design - Merit Award
American Institute of Architects - Iowa Chapter
2021 Masters Award (with JE Dunn)
Master Builders of Iowa
2020 Mid-Rise Building Award
Iowa Ready Mixed Concrete Association
2020 Excellence in Craft (with AWS)
American Institute of Architects - Iowa Chapter

Publications

Winter 2022 Iowa Architect
Fall 2021 Iowa Architect
Winter 2021 Iowa Architect
Fall 2017 Iowa Architect

Photography by Peter Aaron/OTTO and Tom Kessler