What is so good is that you can be gentle to Iowa. Iowa is gentle.

Gertrude Stein
in a letter to Carl Van Vechten
Pictured above is the front entrance of one of the most famous architectural sites in Iowa. It is the Merchants National Bank at 833 Fourth Street in Grinnell, Iowa. Designed by Chicago architect Louis H. Sullivan (teacher of Frank Lloyd Wright), its construction was completed in 1915. One of five Sullivan buildings in Iowa (the others are in Algona, Cedar Rapids and Clinton), this amazing structure is among his most admired. It is also open to the public. The above photo and the four at right of details of the same building were taken by Bluffton University retired art historian and architectural photographer Mary Ann Sullivan, copyright © 2006. Click here to visit her wonderfully rich website. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merchants'_National_Bankhttp://www.grinnelliowa.gov/HistoricArchitecture/index.htmlhttp://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/iowa/grinnell/0054.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/iowa/grinnell/sullivan.html&h=735&w=800&sz=171&hl=en&start=15&tbnid=jofn2qA28AE4aM:&tbnh=131&tbnw=143&prev=shapeimage_4_link_0shapeimage_4_link_1shapeimage_4_link_2
Photo copyright © Mary Ann Sullivan Photographs copyright © Mary Ann Sullivan
Of equal or greater significance than Louis Sullivan’s Merchants National Bank, in terms of architectural influence, is Frank Lloyd Wright’s City National Bank and Park Inn at 4 South Federal Avenue and 15 West State Street in Mason City, Iowa. Built in 1909-10, drawings of it were first published in 1910 in Berlin, by which it influenced European architects, including Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius. Its influence is also evident in the design of Wright’s Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, completed in 1922. Only sixteen years after its completion, the City National Bank and Park Inn were dramatically remodeled, by the addition of storefront windows on the street level (see photos at right, which were taken about a dozen years ago). At the current time, the buildings are being restored to the state that Wright intended, with a targeted completion date of 2010. Read more…http://www.wrightonthepark.org/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mason_City%2C_Iowahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Gropiushttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_Hotel%2C_Tokyohttp://www.wrightonthepark.org/shapeimage_8_link_0shapeimage_8_link_1shapeimage_8_link_2shapeimage_8_link_3shapeimage_8_link_4
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On the campus of the University of Northern Iowa, in Cedar Falls, is the UNI Department of Art (left) in a wonderfully Modernist building designed in 1985 by H. Kennard Bussard of Bussard-Dikis Associates, Des Moines. The building is based on a modular plan, comprised of variations on the proportion of 1x2 (the same as that of a domino). In traditional Japanese architecture, it is the proportion of the 3x6 tatami floor mat, multiples of which were arranged to determine the size and shape of each room. Read more…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_northern_iowahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cedar_Falls%2C_Iowahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tatamihttp://www.uni.edu/artdept/Facilities.htmlshapeimage_9_link_0shapeimage_9_link_1shapeimage_9_link_2shapeimage_9_link_3
Photographs copyright © Roy R. Behrens Photograph copyright © Roy R. Behrens
Want to know more about the history and significance of Iowa architecture? The best book we can recommend is Buildings of Iowa by David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim (Oxford University Press, 1993).http://www.amazon.com/Buildings-Iowa-United-States/dp/019509378X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1196545625&sr=1-1shapeimage_12_link_0
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