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Winners of the IAF’s Community Enhancement Through Architecture and Design Awards: Shelter House and Drake University

October 5, 2022

DES MOINES, IOWA, October 4, 2022 – Iowa Architectural Foundation (IAF) has honored two recipients with its Community Enhancement Through Architecture & Design Awards for 2022: Shelter House, located in Iowa City, and Drake University in Des Moines.

The awards program recognizes those individuals, organizations, agencies, or communities, outside the architectural profession, who have demonstrated consistent and effective leadership, vision, and support for architecture, or have repeatedly championed the cause of architecture or acted as a benefactor of architecture and urban design, all of which has contributed to the betterment of Iowa communities. Quality architecture and urban design make communities more livable - affecting our environment, sustainability, health, culture, identity and economy.

Shelter House, Iowa City

For several years, Shelter House has incorporated high standards of design into its mission and model for combating homelssness, consistently demonstrating how thoughtful design can support day-to-day social services as well as the dignity and health of their tenants. Founded in 1983 in Iowa City, Shelter House today operates a 70-bed emergency shelter, in addition to four homes and a housing-first complex through which they provide over 60 permanent supportive housing units.

As a pioneer of the Housing First approach to chronic homelessness, Shelter House has in recent years opened two buildings that allow individuals to stabilize as tenants. Cross Park Place (2019) contains 24 furnished apartments for the chronically homeless, while The 501 Project (2022) can accommodate 36. They also led efforts for a treatment center and low-barrier winter shelter. The result, GuideLink Center (2021), incorporates a calming color palette and clerestory windows to minimize environmental stressors. By design, all of their shelters balance practical considerations – such as privacy, security, and provision of space for support services – with sensitivity to residents recovering from substance abuse and trauma. They make clear that thoughtful design can advance the mission to end homelessness.

The jury was particularly moved by how Shelter House has used architecture to transform lives and communities. In the words of Cheryl Peterson, “Shelter House has grown to meet the challenges of homelessness in their community, and their emphasis on well-designed architecture is an expression of the respect they hold for the people they serve.” The shelters, the jury agreed, offered residents “not just a house, but a home.”

Said Shelter House Executive Director Crissy Canganelli upon receiving the award, “This award recognizes work that took many hands and hearts to achieve.”

Drake University, Des Moines

“It was at Drake University where a new age of modern architecture began,” according to architect Philip Johnson. He was referring to the campus designs of Eliel Saarinen, later implemented by his son, Eero Saarinen. The Saarinens' modernism found expression in nine buildings at Drake, including four dormitories, Hubbell Dining Hall, and Scott Memorial Chapel, among others. By the 1960s, “Drake’s approach was distinct because the university renewed its commitment to modernist architecture begun two decades earlier,” writes Maura Lyons, professor of art history at Drake. The result was Meredith Hall (1965), designed by renowned architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

Drake University’s commitment to well-designed architecture continues to this day. Extensive efforts have been undertaken to restore and preserve these modern masterpieces, now over 50-60 years old. Currently, construction is underway to give Meredith Hall the same treatment and extend its life for future generations. The most recent addition to campus is the Tom and Ruth Harkin Center, completed in 2020. Designed to serve as a distinguished landmark on campus, this facility sets a new standard for universal and inclusive design.

IAF’s jury was impressed with Drake’s old and new architecture alike. Said Paul Mankins, the University has “one of the preeminent collections of Mid-Century Modern Architecture in the nation. They clearly understand their unique collection and continue to preserve and extend their commitment to architecture. This is truly commendable and needs to be recognized.”

The selection process included a statewide call for entries and selection by a jury of three, including architects Cheryl Peterson, AIA – Technical Preservation Specialist, State Historic Preservation Office of Iowa; Robert Whitehead, AIA, Associate Professor, Iowa State University; and Paul Mankins, FAIA - Professor of Practice, Iowa State University. The awards committee was chaired by IAF Past Chair, Jeff Shaffer, AIA, BNIM.

The winners accepted their awards at the AIA Iowa Awards Celebration on September 29th, held at the Des Moines Catholic Pastoral Center.

About Iowa Architectural Foundation

The Iowa Architectural Foundation is a charitable organization founded in 1989 to promote the awareness and appreciation of architecture and design. The nonprofit pursues its mission through youth and adult educational/outreach programs, community design charrettes, architectural walking tours, an annual lecture series, and more. Visit Facebook or www.iowaarchfoundation.org for more information.