New Kocimski Auditorium open in College of Design

Jacqui Becker

A new addition to the College of Design provides student with a cozy atmosphere for class.

The Karol J. and Lila Kocimski Auditorium had its first class this semester. The goal was to have it open earlier in the fall, but getting basic materials delivered on schedule delayed construction for months.

Campaign Destiny began in July 1995 in hopes of raising $300 million in five years for the College of Design. This goal was surpassed by September 1998, and the idea for a new auditorium in the College of Design surfaced.

Karol Kocimski, professor of architecture at Iowa State from 1958 to 1978, was a well-known architect in Poland. During World War II, he was exiled and moved to London. After another move to Chicago, he turned to teaching at Iowa State.

“He was a famous professor with his ‘old-school type.’ He was very demanding, rigorous for everyone who had him,” said Mark Engelbrecht, dean of the College of Design, who had Kocimski as a professor.

The new auditorium holds 250 people in a small area yet uses the space efficiently, Engelbrecht said.

“There is a certain feel, like a family,” Engelbrecht said. “There’s not another auditorium like it on campus.”

One component of the auditorium is its involvement of others into the history of the auditorium itself. Each seat will have a name on it, selling for $1,000. One hundred and twenty-five have already been bought by graduates and students of Kocimski.

“Engelbrecht has played a critical and vital role in project with his leadership,” said Tom Mitchell, ISU Foundation president. Engelbrecht has been the dean of the College of Design for six years and has worked hard for many advancements in the college.

Besides the auditorium, the college is renovating the atrium, updating jury systems, allotting more studio space, increasing information technology and improving the Cyber Cafe.

The funding of the auditorium was mainly from the estate of Kocimski that was left to the university. Other alumni also have donated to Campaign Destiny.

“If it was $100 or $50,000, it was fun to see that support and enthusiasm,” said Stacy Cullison, College of Design director of development. “We have really great alumni that like the direction since Mark [Engelbrecht] has been dean.”

Engelbrecht said he has enjoyed developing the project.

“It’s been great working with students and faculty to develop a project we all want to work and learn in,” Engelbrecht said. “Speak of it as an expression of growth of the college and development of the college.”

Mitchell said alumni and friends rallied around the progress.

“This shows visible and tangible action with regard to something new that is developing in the College of Design,” he said.

Engelbrecht is happy that others are now able to use the facility.

“We welcome others, even if [they are] required to attend,” he said.