AMES, Iowa – Architects Mariana Ordóñez Grajales and Jesica Amescua Carrera, partners in Mexico City-based Comunal, a community-driven multidisciplinary design practice, will present the 2024 Richard F. Hansen Lecture in Architecture at Iowa State University.

Part of the Department of Architecture’s 2023-2024 Public Programs series, “Of the Land,” their free lecture will be at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 24, in Kocimski Auditorium, room 101 College of Design. Please note this event was rescheduled from Friday, March 29.

Ordóñez Grajales founded Comunal in 2015 and Amescua Carrera joined the practice in 2017. Together they take an interdisciplinary approach to addressing rural community habitability, providing comprehensive solutions tailored to each region’s socio-environmental conditions. 

Richard F. Hansen Prize Forum

The duo will also serve as guest jurors for the Richard F. Hansen Prize, established in 2004 by Iowa State alumni Richard F. and Barbara Hansen and awarded annually to the winner(s) of a design competition held in conjunction with the lecture.  

Six student teams will present projects completed in the fall 2023 architecture third-year studio courses: 

  • “Reaching” by Colton Folgesong, Michael Folsom and Jordan King
    Studio instructors: Brent Schipper, professor of practice, and Donovan Bunn, assistant professor of practice
  • “Heritage Mosaic” by Luz Flores-Maciel and Alexis Jensen
    Studio Instructor: David Reid, assistant professor of practice
  • “Gridscapes” by Drew Larsen and Jack McMenamy
    Studio instructor: Roman Chikerinets, associate teaching professor
  • “Resurgence” by Emma DeKruyf and Piper Wendling
    Studio instructor: Anna Aversing, associate professor of practice
  • “Revival” by Aiden Hodge and Gracie Roberts
    Studio instructor: Kevin Lair, assistant teaching professor
  • “Augmented Landscape” by Keelie Fleener and Rachel Gordon
    Studio instructor: Consuelo Nunez Ciuffa, associate professor of practice 

Presentations will be from 1–3:30 p.m. April 24 in the Hansen Exchange, upper-level center space in the College of Design’s King Pavilion. Awards will be announced in conjunction with the lecture at 4:30 p.m. 

About the speakers 

Ordóñez Grajales received a bachelor of architecture from the Autonomous University of Yucatan in Mérida, Mexico, and a master of architecture from the University of the Environment in Valle de Bravo, Mexico. She is working toward a second master’s degree in geography at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City. 

Amescua Carrera received her bachelor of architecture from Ibero-American University in Mexico City. She holds a master of architecture and a PhD in architecture, both from UNAM. From 2004–2016 she worked at Gaeta Springall Arquitectos, where she was a co-curator of the Mexico Pavilion at the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2014. 

Comunal has won several national and international awards for the role it plays in developing sustainable architecture solutions. In 2020, the firm was a finalist for the Oscar Niemeyer Award for Latin American Architecture, one of the most prestigious awards in Latin American architecture.  

Comunal was selected for the Mexico Pavilion at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale and the partners were recognized as Emerging Voices by the Architectural League of New York, both in 2018. They received the AR Emerging Architecture Award  and a silver medal at the Third National Biennial of Young Architects in 2019, among many other honors.


Peter Zuroweste, Public Programs Committee Chair, Department of Architecture,
Lauren Johnson, Communications Specialist, College of Design,