Harvey Ingham Hall of Science

Harvey Ingham Hall of Science (1949) is dedicated to Harvey Ingham, an Iowa newspaper man, who in the 1880s took editorial charge of the Upper Des Moines newspaper, and soon after became editor of the Des Moines Register and Tribune. The building, designed by the father and son architectural team of Eliel and Eero Saarinen (Saarinen, Swanson, and Saarinen), was made possible because of a donation by Mr. and Mrs. Gardner Cowles.

Designing during the burgeoning International Style of the early and mid-twentieth century, Eliel and Eero Saarinen were influenced by Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus school in Germany, and other innovative architects of the time. Forgoing ornamentation and ostentation for simple lines and functional form, these Modernist architects were striving to create economical, optimistic buildings that broke from the past and helped to realize a new vision of the future. One of Eliel Saarinen’s contemporaries was Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who also came from the Bauhaus school. These European “form givers” were all living and working in the United States after the World Wars, and two decades later, Mies van der Rohe would design Meredith Hall on Drake’s campus, a project that was originally to be completed by Eero Saarinen and Associates. The relationship with the Saarinen firm ended with Eero Saarinen’s sudden death at age 51, in 1961. But Drake’s continuing commitment to progress and change was evident in this choice for Meredith Hall. For while both Eero Saarinen and Mies van der Rohe worked within the modern period, their forms were very different.

Harvey Ingham Hall was the first building to be erected in a long-range expansion plan for Drake in the years following WWII. The facility’s modern labs and large classrooms were important in America’s post-war era. Because of the G.I. Bill, college enrollment was up by 12.5%, and advances in science and industry were critical to America’s growing strength as a nation and world power. In order to accommodate the growing population of students that would be using the facilities in the science and pharmacy halls (Fitch Hall, its adjunct facility), the function and form of the buildings had to be efficient and spacious.

The enclosed footbridge that connects Harvey Ingham to Fitch Hall of Pharmacy was an innovative and functional way to unite the two schools while allowing each its individual identity. The footbridge connected the top floors of each building, and its design was appropriated from Gropius’ connecting skyway at the Bauhaus school in Dessau. Today, the added skywalks from Harvey Ingham to Morgan E. Cline Hall of Pharmacy and Science (1993) connect the buildings at all three levels. In this design, the philosophies of Eliel and Eero Saarinen continue serving the purpose of bringing people together in both thought and action.

Text: Michaela Mullin, Rebecca Rieck, and Yvette Sutton