AMES, Iowa — Shelby Doyle, co-founder of the Computation and Construction Lab and director of the Architectural Robotics Lab at Iowa State University, has been named the next Stan G. Thurston Professor in Design Build in the ISU College of Design.

Iowa State alumni Stan and Dotty Thurston created the professorship in 2014 to support the recruitment and retention of Iowa State faculty who are leaders in the field of design-build — a model of project-based learning that empowers students to construct their designs in collaboration with local organizations and communities.

The inaugural Thurston Professorship was held by Bruce Bassler, now an associate professor emeritus of architecture, from 2014 until his retirement in 2017.

About the recipient

An associate professor of architecture, Doyle joined the Iowa State faculty in August 2015 as an ISU Presidential High Impact Hire in design-build and digital fabrication. She received the ISU Department of Architecture’s inaugural Daniel J. Huberty Faculty Fellowship in 2016. Her award-winning research and teaching focus on digital fabrication and mapping, environmental sustainability, gender equity in architecture and technology, and public engagement through architecture.

Together with architecture assistant professor Nick Senske and former lecturer Leslie Forehand, Doyle established the architecture department’s Computation and Construction Lab (CCL). She has helped secure funding for a broad range of contemporary tools, including a $50,000 university computation grant and matching funds from the College of Design to purchase two industrial robotic arms first installed in the CCL and now the centerpiece of the Architectural Robotics Lab on the ground floor of Iowa State’s new Student Innovation Center.

Doyle and Senske also received an Upjohn Research Initiative Grant from the American Institute of Architects and a Research Incentive Award from the Architectural Research Centers Consortium for their research to develop water-soluble and biodegradable concrete formworks through additive manufacturing (3D printing).

The Thurston Professorship will support Doyle’s teaching and research that bring together computation and construction, and help expand the possibilities of design-build and public engagement in the Department of Architecture and the College of Design, she said.

“Through the generous support of Stan Thurston and his wife, Dotty, we can enhance the equipment available to students in the Computation and Construction Lab and Architectural Robotics Lab, as well as support the development of more inclusive methods for thinking about and building with technology,” Doyle said.

Doyle believes in exposing students to the potentials of technology and design as tools of both critique and public engagement. Her recent studios and seminars have investigated design ideas across scales, mining the relationships between architecture, infrastructure and fabrication. Her students have designed and constructed permanent structures for the Iowa Arboretum and Urbandale Parks and Recreation Department, and temporary pavilions for the 80/35 Music Festival, Flyover Fashion Festival and Iowa State University exhibit at the Iowa State Fair. They have also engaged in constructing and casting textiles and concrete for temporary installations in Ames and Des Moines.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Doyle and several students working with the CCL received support from Alliant Energy and ISU Printing Services to produce 2,000 acrylic face shields for distribution to 63 medical facilities throughout Iowa.

“Shelby merges our traditional strengths in design-build and community outreach with her innovative digital fabrication research in a way that honors the goal of the Thurston Professorship: improved quality of life for all,” said College of Design Dean Luis Rico-Gutierrez.

Doyle’s work at Iowa State has been recognized with multiple national awards, including the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture 2020 Creative Achievement Award, the Autodesk / Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) 2019 Emerging Research Award and the Building Technology Educators Society 2019 Emerging Faculty Award. She serves on the ACADIA board of directors and co-chaired the ACADIA 2020 online conference.

Doyle holds a bachelor of science in architecture with honors from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, and a master of architecture from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. A licensed architect and a LEED Accredited Professional, she is a member of the AIA and Iowa Women in Architecture.

She previously was a visiting assistant professor in the Louisiana State University School of Architecture and a research fellow with the LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio, both in Baton Rouge; an instructor with the University of Houston Pan Asia Mekong Summer Program (Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam), Parsons The New School for Design, New York City; Urban Lab Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and Limkokwing University Faculty for the Built Environment, Phnom Penh; and a fabrication lab assistant for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Deer Isle, Maine.

About the professorship

The Stan G. Thurston Professorship in Design Build was established through a gift made through the Iowa State University foundation, a private, nonprofit corporation dedicated to securing and managing gifts and grants that benefit Iowa State University.

Stan Thurston received a bachelor of architecture from ISU in 1969 and a master of business administration from Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration in 1974. Prior to his retirement in 2006, he served as president, CEO and board chairman of Des Moines-based Life Care Services, which manages more than 70 senior housing and continuing-care communities nationwide.

After a successful career in banking and residential real estate sales and appraisals, Dotty Thurston returned to college and received a bachelor of science in marketing from Iowa State in 2000. She serves on the boards of a number of Des Moines-area nonprofit organizations.


Shelby Doyle, Architecture, 540-454-4390, doyle@iastate.edu
Deborah Hauptmann, Architecture, deborah@iastate.edu
Luis Rico-Gutierrez, Design Administration, 515-294-7427, lrico@iastate.edu
Kim McDonough, ISU Foundation, 515-294-7272, kmcdonough@foundation.iastate.edu
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, 515-294-9289, hsauer@iastate.edu