Exhibit encourages to ‘think outside the square’ at Iowa State Fair

Architecture student Tuyen Le, left, architecture graduate student Tom Goetz, and Computation and Construction Lab associate Erin Hunt work on IM_RU2, a pavilion designed and assembled for Iowa State University’s Iowa State Fair exhibit this year. Photo by Christopher Gannon

University Marketing partnered with the College of Design this year for “Think Outside the Square: Design That’s Shaping Iowa’s Future.” The 1,800-square-foot Iowa State exhibit will include a 300-square-foot pavilion designed and built by design students, faculty and staff.

The exhibit will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily in the Varied Industries Building at the state fair, which runs Aug. 9-19.

IM_RU2 is a redesign of a pavilion created in a 2017 interdisciplinary design-build and digital fabrication studio led by Shelby Doyle, assistant professor of architecture. The pavilion is constructed with low-cost 3D-printed joints, mirrors, wires and LED lights.

The most noticeable difference in this iteration is the lights will be – you guessed it – cardinal and gold. Both pavilions were produced in the architecture department’s Computation and Construction Lab.

It took 800 hours just to 3D-print the pavilion’s 3,200 joints from plant-based plastic, which will be recycled after the fair. That doesn’t include the hours spent building IM_RU2 this summer – including attaching 400 LED lights and 400 mirrors to the 800 joint-wire boxes.

“In our increasingly digital world, people perceive and engage with the environment through a fabricated lens,” Doyle said. “Our perceptions of ourselves and the world are subjective and can include counterfeit realities: convincingly realistic representations of things that never occurred or existed. By exploding and scattering what is seen, the IM_RU2 pavilion shows through architecture and public space that a person is simultaneously confronted with a wide range of individual and collective perceptions.”

The name, IM_RU, is a play on the phrase “I am [blank], are you?”, allowing the viewer to insert any word or phrase in the blank.

“The original IM_RU conveyed an Iowa City fashion festival’s message of inclusivity of all people, shapes and sizes by pixelating your self-image,” said Erin Hunt, Computation and Construction Lab associate. “This redesign focuses on diversity, civility and recognizing that we’re all connected. Seeing ourselves and others in fragments – as you do in IM_RU2 – provides us with different perspectives on our individual identities and our place in society.”

Read more: University exhibit encourages Iowans to ‘think outside the square’ at Iowa State Fair

thumbnail courtesy of iastate.edu