Iowa State University Marston Hall Renovation

Location
Ames, Iowa
Year
2016
Size
65,449 SF

Client
Iowa State University

Project Team
Yasmine Killeen
Paul Mankins
Kevin Wagner

Iowa State University Marston Hall Renovation – Substance Architecture
Iowa State University Marston Hall Renovation – Substance Architecture

Iowa State University Marston Hall Renovation

Marston Hall has been home to Iowa State University's College of Engineering since it was built in 1903 and, together with the neighboring Marston Water Tower, symbolizes the College’s legacy. Incremental building renovations over the first 110 years of its life had not been guided by any overall vision, leaving the building fragmented and lacking coherent organization. A radical building transformation was needed to allow this historic building to accommodate new teaching and working paradigms along with 21st century technology. The interior of Marston Hall underwent a radical transformation to align with contemporary University standards.

 The project involved a near-complete demolition of the interior with temporary structural shoring from the basement to the roof to facilitate the reconfiguration. New interior stairs and elevator shafts were added for accessibility, structural walls were removed to create spacious classrooms and student areas, and offices were relocated to upper levels to make student spaces more accessible. Interior design focused on maximizing daylight. Key historical features, such as the curved limestone stairs in the rotunda, were carefully preserved and restored, along with the building's exterior, ensuring a seamless blend of heritage and modernity.

Location
Ames, Iowa
Year
2016
Size
65,449 SF

Client
Iowa State University

Project Team
Yasmine Killeen
Paul Mankins
Kevin Wagner

By reconfiguring internal spaces and updating facilities, the project effectively aligns the building with contemporary educational practices, while maintaining its historical significance.

Iowa State University Marston Hall Renovation – Substance Architecture

Site plan

Iowa State University Marston Hall Renovation – Substance Architecture

Floor plans - after renovation

Iowa State University Marston Hall Renovation – Substance Architecture

Building section

Iowa State University Marston Hall Renovation – Substance Architecture

Systems diagram

Iowa State University Marston Hall Renovation – Substance Architecture

Pedagogy diagram

Preserving Historical Integrity

Preserving historical integrity is critical when adding modern functionality to historic buildings. At Marston Hall, historically significant elements like the iconic rotunda and limestone stairs were meticulously restored, maintaining their historical grandeur. When decorative columns, original to the building but covered over years prior were discovered, they were incorporated into the design and celebrated. 

 

The preservation efforts extended to the exterior masonry and windows, where original designs were retained and enhanced, creating a tangible link to the University's past and preserving the legacy of this landmark building. Using materials compatible with restorations and modern additions accomplished a seamless blend of old and new. This approach resulted in the best of both worlds—a functional building by today’s standards that also conserved the building's rich history—and allowed it to remain the architectural centerpiece it had become.

Marston Hall's exterior, with its preserved masonry and windows, continues to tell the story of the University's rich history, while its modernized interior prepares students for future challenges with state-of-the-art facilities.

Iowa State University Marston Hall Renovation – Substance Architecture

Historic building exterior

Iowa State University Marston Hall Renovation – Substance Architecture

Historic building exterior

Iowa State University Marston Hall Renovation – Substance Architecture

Building interior during demolition

Sustainability and Accessibility

The renovation was guided by Iowa State University’s commitment to sustainable design and creating an accessible educational environment for all. By replacing outdated window air conditioners with a highly efficient chilled beam cooling system, utilizing the University’s steam system, incorporating energy-efficient lighting and low-flow plumbing fixtures, and using local and sustainably sourced materials, we were able to reduce the building’s ecological footprint and improve indoor environmental quality, resulting in the project receiving LEED Gold® Certification.

 

Accessibility was addressed by adding modern elevators and ramps to provide barrier-free access throughout. By opening a skylight original to the building but covered over years ago due to leaking and strategically inserting glass panels between solid corridor walls, daylight was maximized throughout the space.

Consultants

MEP Engineer
IMEG (formerly KJWW Engineering)
Structural Engineer
Raker Rhodes Engineering LLC
Civil Engineer
Snyder & Associates, Inc.
Sustainability Consultant
C-Wise Design and Consulting LLC
Cost Consultant
Stecker-Harmsen Inc
Elevator Consultant
Lerch Bates
Construction Manager
Mortenson

Awards

2019 Distinguished Award in Interiors
American Institute of Architects - Central States Region

Publications

Fall 2017 Iowa Architect

Photography by Paul Crosby Architectural Photography