Tom and Ruth Harkin Center recognized among projects moving our world toward a more sustainable future in GREEN GOOD DESIGN Awards

Tom and Ruth Harkin Center recognized among projects moving our world toward a more sustainable future in GREEN GOOD DESIGN Awards

The Tom and Ruth Harkin Center has been recognized among the leading international design projects that are moving our world toward a more sustainable future by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design 2023 GREEN GOOD DESIGN Awards program. The GREEN GOOD DESIGN Awards program honors projects globally that exhibit outstanding sustainable design and are compatible with the highest standards of good environment . This year's award recipients demonstrated advanced 'green approaches,' methods, and technologies, creating the greatest positive impact for the global environment.

About the Project:

The Tom and Ruth Harkin Center at Drake University serves as a new home for the Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement, which is focused on improving the lives of all Americans by giving policymakers access to high-quality information and engaging citizens as active participants in the formation of public policy. The new building supports the Institute’s work in programs aligned with the important issues for humanity embodied in the career of retired Senator Tom Harkin, including labor and employment, people with disabilities, retirement security, and wellness/nutrition.

As a new dedicated office, research space, and center for community engagement, this facility seeks to engage the Drake University campus and community in a dialogue of equity and empathy. Key university community stakeholder meetings were convened to organize programmatic, environmental, energy, and economic performance goals for the facility. In addition, the Harkin Institute’s People with Disabilities Core Advisory Committee evaluated universal design guiding principles in response to barriers that still exist today more than thirty years after the creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The Tom and Ruth Harkin Center's driving spirit of empathy and inclusion weaves the guiding principles of sustainable design together to form a model of what sustainable design should be. The project advances the architectural and design industry toward expanding its practice and definition of sustainable design to encompass equity and inclusion. For the Tom and Ruth Harkin Center, considerations were given to the broad spectrum of human needs for all abilities, informed by guiding design principles categorized into Generous Space, Equitable Use, Individual Empowerment, and a Clear Path.

These guiding principles are reflected in numerous design strategies through providing generous circulation spaces that support sign-language conversations and multiple wheelchair-users; creating equitable experiences such as ‘meet in the round’ conference room configurations to provide the opportunity for hearing-impaired individuals to engage in conversation through undisrupted sightlines; implementing lighting design that creates clear paths for individuals with low-vision or hearing; and establishing wellness rooms for individual empowerment. Connecting the two levels is a graceful, ramped path that serves as both the primary circulation and common path between floors for all building users and a symbolic visual sinew for the building that is expressed on the exterior and interior, binding purpose with spirit.