ISU alumna builds on her accomplishments in architecture

Rachel Sinn

On Monday night, Iowa State’s College of Design will honor Rebecca Greco, architect and ISU alumna, at an award ceremony at the King Pavilion from 6 to 8 p.m.

“The Christian Petersen Design Award was established in 1980 to recognize alumni, staff and friends of Iowa State University for contributions to the advancement of design through personal aesthetic achievement, exceptional support or extraordinary encouragement and service,” said Luis Rico-Gutierrez, dean of the College of Design, “Honorees may meet one or more of these criteria; Rebecca Greco meets all of them.”

While growing up in West Des Moines, Greco always knew a love for art and architecture were a part of what fueled her ambition. After taking classes at the Des Moines Art Center, Greco found she was falling in love with the atmosphere and shape of the building more than the lessons.

“I really fell in love with the building designed by Eliel Saarinen,” Greco said. “I started out as an art major but switched to architecture after the first semester [at Iowa State].”

“Delighted” and “humbled” were words used to describe her reaction upon learning she would be receiving the Christian Petersen Design Award. Not only is the award a connection to her career but also her heritage.

“Christian Petersen was a Danish sculptor and an immigrant of Denmark, and coincidentally, I’m 100 percent Danish,” Greco said.

Recently having taken a family trip to Denmark to explore her roots, Greco was inspired by the Danish’s appreciation for beautiful architecture.

“All of [Greco’s] projects result in functional and inspiring environments for the exchange of thoughts and ideas, development of new business strategies and research or planning for future growth,” Rico-Gutierrez said. “Several of her projects have set new benchmarks for scientific and technological research.”

Rico-Gutierrez went on to explain one of Greco’s architectural clients, the Medtronic World Research Headquarters, has enabled the medical technology company to expand life-saving research in biomedical engineering and biological and materials sciences.

“[Greco] also believes in giving back to Iowa State,” Rico-Gutierrez said. “She helped establish the Hammel, Green and Abrahamson Architecture Scholarship and the HGA Studio in the College of Design, which enhances our students’ educational experience.”

Currently Greco holds a position on the College of Design’s Advancement Council and previously held a position as chair of the Iowa State Architecture Advisory Council. Her current job, located in Minneapolis, is head of the public and corporate practice group of Hammel, Green and Abrahamson.

Greco’s husband is also an architect and their son is currently a junior in the architecture program at Iowa State.

“People need to follow their heart,” Greco said. “It’s important to have a passion in any career you pursue.”