ISU Architecture Student Team Wins 2016 Hansen Prize

Algae would grow in a matrix of tubular plastic “cells” along one wall of the proposed building. Rendering courtesy of the students.


AMES, Iowa — Third-year architecture students Joseph Hiestand, Minneapolis, and Daniel Morley, Nassau, Bahamas, won the 2016 Richard F. Hansen Prize competition hosted by the Iowa State University Department of Architecture.


Daniel Morley, left, and Joseph Hiestand with their award-winning project. Photo by Leslie Forehand.

Iowa State alumni Richard F. and Barbara E. Hansen established the Hansen Prize in 2004 to recognize the winner(s) of a design studio competition held in conjunction with the Richard F. Hansen Lecture in Architecture. This year’s guest speaker, Kai-Uwe Bergmann— a partner with the international design firm BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group)—served on the jury that chose the top team in the competition. Additional jurors were architecture Department Chair Deborah Hauptmann and Erin Olson-Douglas, an urban designer with the City of Des Moines.

Hiestand and Morley were one of five teams selected to present their work in the competition March 23. The projects were developed in the fall 2015 ARCH 301: Architectural Design studio taught by Stan G. Thurston Professor in Design Build Bruce Bassler, Associate Professors Cameron Campbell and Dan Naegele, Assistant Professor Shelby Doyle and Lecturer Leslie Forehand.

Environmental learning center

Students in all five sections of the studio developed environmental learning centers, each focused on a different site in Iowa, such as the Neil Smith National Wildlife Refuge and Prairie Learning Center in Prairie City and the Principal Riverwalk in Des Moines.

For their winning proposal, Hiestand and Morley—members of Forehand’s studio—created the “Iowa State Bio Research Lab” in Pammel Woods behind the College of Design building on the west side of the ISU campus.

The proposed building would span the stream running through Pammel Woods, creating a bridge. Photo by Alison Weidemann.

The proposed building would span the stream running through Pammel Woods, creating a bridge. Photo by Alison Weidemann.

When they visited their site, the students observed a large amount of algae growing in the creek and were inspired to incorporate small-scale algaculture (algae farming) into their design. They first planned to locate the lab on the hillside but realized that spanning the creek with their building would allow them to pump water from the stream as well as capture rainwater to grow algae on the façade.

The algae would help shade and cool the building while also providing the raw material for algal biofuel to power the building’s generator, Hiestand said. The team also incorporated a sample library in their building to make algal samples available to researchers for testing.

“The whole algae idea really drove our project with a very clear concept, which is difficult to find sometimes,” he said. “This would be a living lab, helping to test different varieties of algae for their biofuel potential.”

Jurors praised the team’s innovative approach to the project while offering suggestions for taking the proposal further.

“One of [the suggestions] was [we] need to prove that this is possible on this site and with this technology, especially for such a highly technical design,” Hiestand said.

Hiestand and Morley will split the $2,000 prize. Other finalist teams in the Hansen Prize competition included:

  • Alex Blum, Clear Lake, and Nick Loughrey, Shakopee, Minnesota (Bassler’s studio)
  • Austin Hurt, Creston, and Zach Thielen, Bellevue (Campbell’s studio)
  • Alex Hochstetler, Woodbury, Minnesota, and Sarah Schneider, Ames (Doyle’s studio)
  • Evan Giles, Council Bluffs, and Tyler Wurr, Manning (Naegele’s studio)

Joseph Hiestand, Architecture student, (218) 731-6356,
Leslie Forehand, Architecture, (515) 294-8786,
Sarah Muller, Design Communications, (641) 780-9430,
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289,