Humanities and Social Studies Center

, Grinnell College

Grinnell, IA

exterior students
outdoor common space

What can design do to seamlessly blend the traditional and the modern? Grinnell College’s Humanities and Social Studies Center features four pavilions – two new and two renovated – joined by a three-story atrium with connecting bridges. The new structure embraces Alumni Recitation Hall, creating a central, light-filled courtyard that looks toward the future of liberal arts education while respecting the heritage of one of Grinnell’s most treasured landmarks.

Gone are the days of teachers lecturing and students listening. The HSCC embraces the possibilities of a 21st-century learning experience. Students and professors begin by walking together along the atrium bridge, enjoying the morning light from the clerestory windows. Class convenes in the historic Alumni Recitation Hall, now fully integrated with modern technology.

Students will soon head to the learning laboratories for small-group breakouts where they’ll use online tools to work with peers at other institutions. Between classes, they’ll meet up and head to semi-private breakout spaces for project work – fostering the intellectual collisions that enrich a student’s education.

A mix of the old and new, the HSSC makes possible a teaching and learning experience attuned to emerging research, technology, and collaboration, while honoring Grinnell’s tradition of excellence in education.

Energy Usage

28 kBtu/ft2⸱yr

Energy Use Intensity

77 %

Below the AIA 2030 Baseline

Building Facts

  • 3-Story Atrium
  • 4 Pavilions
  • 40 Classrooms
  • 77% Energy Use Intensity Savings
  • 145 Faculty Offices
  • 52,000 GSF Modernization
  • 125,000 GSF New Construction
  • 177,000 GSF of Education Excellence

Exceeding the AIA 2030 Challenge

At 77% Energy Use Intensity savings compared to the AIA 2030 Baseline, the building outperforms the AIA 2030 challenge.

120 kBtu / Sq Ft / Yr BASELINE energy use intensity
36 kBtu / Sq Ft / Yr GOAL energy use intensity
28 kBtu / Sq Ft / Yr PREDICTED energy use intensity

Design Moments with Robert McClure

My favorite part of design is being able to see projects like the Grinnell College Humanities and Social Studies Complex evolve from a hand sketch to a rendering to reality.

The classrooms look like a perfect learning environment with plenty of natural light. I am very excited to have class here and to spend lots of time exploring and finding new study nooks.

Kaylin Kuhn Grinnell College ’21 of Bettendorf, Iowa, Mathematics Major