Every spring, the ISU Department of Architecture puts together a great event: the Richard F. Hansen Prize Competition and Lecture. This year, our guest of honor was author, scholar, and chair of the architecture department at University of Pennsylvania, David Leatherbarrow, who was a member of the competition jury and gave a lecture that evening about Sverre Fehn titled "The Architect's Shadow."
The competition is between third year students, who present their projects from last semester. In recent years, the studios have been set up to focus on landscapes. This year, the project was set in central Iowa on a rural site. The program is a healing center for healers: a retreat where medical professionals etc. go to rest and escape from the stress of their work.
The first team presented a strategy of mimicking the topography to create spatial sequences, surfaces for occupation and solar panels, and building enclosure.
The second project was like a monastery, with a central, communal courtyard.
The third project was sited along topographic contours and was based on systems present in nature. This team tied for first place.
The fourth project went through expansive process drawings and mappings, leading to a deeper study of site plan and placement of program.
The last project also tied for first place and explored a conceptual analysis that led to a powerful experiential sequence through the site.
Setting up the first slide for the Leatherbarrow lecture. The lecture turned out to be a fascinating dive into a specific writing sample by Sverre Fehn, which Leatherbarrow was able to connect to the prehistoric origins of architecture as well as many other thoughtful and profound topics.