ISU alumnus honored with design award

David Bartholomew

Celebrated with mingling and wine drinking in King Pavilion in the Design Building, Ken Smith, an ISU alumnus and world-renowned landscape architect, was awarded the 2011 Christian Petersen Design Award, the highest award given out by the college, Monday night.

Smith graduated in 1976 from Iowa State with a degree in landscape architecture. Upon graduation, Smith worked for the Iowa Conservation Commission and began an apprenticeship with famous sculptor Paul Shao where he mastered his craft.

In 1986, he received his master’s degree from Harvard and eventually went on to teach there as well as the City College of New York.

It was around this time that Smith began to focus his passions for creating landscapes that improved urban life.

His notable works include the MoMa Roof Garden in New York City and the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif.

“Ken demonstrated the impacts that landscape architecture can have on a community, and I would like to propose a toast to an alumnus that makes us all very proud,” said Dean Luis Rico-Gutierrez.

After Rico-Gutierrez spoke, Smith received his Christian Petersen Design Award Medallion and also said a few words.

“This is a great honor, this is a great school and I am honored to be a part of it,” Smith said. 

The night was also highlighted by a general appreciation for the College of Design, which surprisingly did not even exist when Smith went to school.

“This is one of the hallmarks of the beginning of the year, and what a terrific place to hold it in,” said President Gregory Geoffroy about the King Pavilion in the College of Design.

Geoffroy continued with his praise by noting, “I always tell you how proud I am of your college since the first day I arrived at Iowa State … you are one of the gems of our university, and this will be the last time I will be able to formally comment on this great college.”

The night ended with the introdruction of several new professors at the college and a cascade of handshakes for Smith for his illustrious career.