Three programs in the College of Design receive high rankings in the U.S.


Mary Pautsch/Iowa State Daily

Grant Olson, sophomore in architecture, works on a project in the architecture studio in Design Hall.

Kiana Brincks

The College of Design’s hard work has recently paid off.

According to DesignIntelligence, a ranking system exclusively focused on design programs, the graduate interior design program was ranked ninth, undergraduate landscape architecture was ranked 11th and the undergraduate architecture program was ranked 22nd.

DesignIntelligence concentrates exclusively on design, making it the only national college ranking survey to focus on just design. The search process for finding the top design programs works to gain insight from their strong network. DesignIntelligence sought out 1,923 firms and organizations to participate in assisting with research.

The College of Design has been consistently working hard over the years to educate students to be the best and judging by the rankings, their efforts appear to have paid off.

“We have been working for some time in taking advantage of the composition of the college. We are one of the few colleges of design where everything you see everyday of your life is produced by a discipline that we have here under one roof,” said Luis Rico-Gutierrez, dean of the College of Design.

Here at Iowa State, students gain an understanding of and experience with collaborating with all other unique disciplines. This is a factor that allows Iowa State’s design program to stand out.

“Students here learn how to collaborate with other disciplines not only within the College of Design but the other colleges as well,” Rico-Gutierrez said. “This is something we do really well and that matches exactly what is going on in the professional world.” 

Providing students with the opportunity to succeed in their future is something the design program works very hard to achieve.

“We have internships all over the world and most are on a repeat basis,” said Lee Cagley, professor and department chair of interior design. “We place students in extremely prominent internship positions where they compete with other students from far more expensive design schools. But when the smoke clears it turns out many of our students get the internships.”

Expectations are set high in order for students to confidently go out into their chosen field. Fred Malven, director of graduate education for interior design, explained how the program’s human-centric goals are another way they stand out.

“It’s an understanding of how people perceive the world. We want students to understand not only the visual impact of design but taste, touch, smell, movement through spaces and how it affects them physiology,” Malven said.

Each program has its own way of standing out and offering practical educational experience.

Carl Rogers, chair and associate professor in landscape architecture, discussed how the Savanna studio sets the tone for the immersive experience. This is a studio that allows the landscape architecture program to standout because of the hands on projects and learning it provides, Rogers said.

Students work on projects that influence the community and environment while gaining knowledge from professionals that students get to talk to.

The architecture program has been around for years, allowing it to build status as a strong, well-known program. Being in the top 25 is such a honor because all of the schools in the top 25 are close in excellence, Rico-Gutierrez said.

With the latest rankings reassuring the positive work everyone at the College of Design is doing, everyone wants to keep improving and staying consistent with superior quality.

Rico-Gutierrez described making improvements by continuing to enhance the collaboration skills of students, making sure students graduate prepared to practice in a global environment and making students comfortable practicing in cultures outside of their comfort zone.

“I am thankful to the faculty, students and staff for the great job they are doing,” Rico-Gutierrez said. “The country is noticing the great work our faculty and students are doing, and that is what the rankings represent.”