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College Outreach Programs

ISU Design West (Sioux City)

Design West is a satellite program of the Iowa State University College of Design aimed at expanding regional educational opportunities in the disciplines of art, architecture, landscape architecture, urban and regional planning, graphic design, industrial design and interior design. The program is a partnership of the College of Design, ISU Extension and Outreach, the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce and the City of Sioux City, Iowa, and supported in part by an Iowa Great Places grant. It allows students to investigate and experiment with ideas and designs in a vibrant urban environment that incorporates historical, contemporary and natural dimensions of life in Iowa.

Design West is headquartered in the Fourth Street Historic District, which contains the best concentration of late-19th-century commercial buildings in Sioux City, many notable for their distinctive Richardsonian Romanesque style of architecture popular at the time. The studio facility provides space for Iowa State design students and faculty to engage in both short- and longer-term projects with the community. It also hosts summer design workshops for area middle school and high school students.

About the ISU Design West Studio Facility

The renovated studio space is housed in one of the oldest remaining buildings in Sioux City, an 1890s-era former steam-boiler plant with a four-story smokestack. The 7,000-square-foot building features a 32-foot-tall atrium, cantilevered concrete stairs and an interior space that integrates the original red quartzite exterior walls with contemporary wood floors and new white walls. The studio is illuminated by giant windows that flood the interior with daylight. Students not only study in the building; they also study how the building itself was put together, its former and current functions and its urban context.

The facility also boasts an innovative exhibit hall in a tunnel beneath the adjacent alley, with four acrylic manhole covers above for viewing by passersby on the street. And it houses Reddy Kilowatt, a piece of pop art from Sioux City’s history. This large neon figure once accompanied the “Welcome to Sioux City” sign on the city’s old power company building. It was constructed in the old boiler building that is now home to Design West and now resides there on the wall.

Students, faculty and community partners draw on this setting and the distinctive late-19th-century architecture of the city as their inspiration for developing regional design projects.