Sioux City Journal, IA 12-14-06 City gets architecture school

Sioux City Journal, IA
City gets architecture school
Grants announced for Great Places projects
By Bret Hayworth, Journal staff writer
For months it appeared there was little progress on projects related to Sioux
City's Great Places designation.
That all changed Wednesday when Iowa Lt. Gov. Sally Pederson came to town
to announce the hoped-for Sioux City-themed School of Architecture would
become a reality, via a $530,000 grant.
Also, a $60,000 Great Places grant will pay most of the cost of 35 large, colorful
"wayfinding" signs that will direct people to key downtown locations.
In October 2005, downtown Sioux City was named one of three Iowa Great
Places, distinctive places worthy of a boost in recreational opportunities and
publicity. Sioux City people pitched a plan to improve the front-door look of the
riverfront, transform the Stockyards channel area, build a signature terra cotta
bridge, move the museum downtown and pump up the Floyd Boulevard Local
Foods Market.
Over the last 14 months since that designation, there have been many dealings
with Sioux City Great Places Committee members, city officials, state agencies
and others to get programs off the ground. The announcements Wednesday
were hailed by a host of speakers.
Pederson cited "a lot of synergy created," and Iowa Department of Cultural
Affairs director Anita Walker said the Great Places designation obviously
"triggered creativity" to push projects forward.
Said Walker, "Now you are going to have your own school of design to help
young architects and visionaries ... to help develop this community."
Nathan Kalaher, Sioux City Great Places Committee co-chairman and an
architect, had been one of the people pushing for a school of architecture that
drew on key elements of Sioux City's past, like distinctive terra cotta buildings
constructed in the late 19th century and still present downtown.
He said that idea was only "theoretical" a year ago. But he announced plans
Wednesday to renovate a former boiler/steam generation building in the Historic
Fourth Street area into studio construction space that will become home to a
satellite program of Iowa State University's College of Design.
Praising the cooperation from ISU College of Design officials, Kalaher said, "I
don't know if you know, but it actually takes awhile to start a school." About 6,000
feet of studio instruction space will become available just south of 1014 Fourth
Mark Englebrecht, dean of the ISU College of Design, said "we are both
pleased and excited by the opportunity to use the Great Places initiative in Sioux
City as a vehicle for the regular studio work of our senior students and faculty
and to contribute to the revitalization of this historic city."
Getting around the downtown area is the focus of the wayfinding signage, which
will cost about $70,000.
Great Places Wayfinding Signage Committee chairwoman Regina Roth
explained the 35 signs, which should be up by March, will highlight the most
efficient way to travel to popular attractions. While Sioux City has many
interesting places downtown, Roth said, "you have to have a sign to get there."
In an example of the cross-departmental cooperation that Great Places officials
have cited as a hallmark of the program, the signs will be produced by prisoners
in the Iowa corrections system.
"They will not be your run-of-the-mill green, brown and blue signs that we have
become accustomed to seeing along road ways. The signage will be visually
interesting and will coordinate with the district's unique blend of historic
preservation and exciting progress," Roth said.
Bret Hayworth may be reached at (712) 293.4203 or