By Chance and By Design: A History of the Pentacrest

March 2008 – June 2008

View the online exhibit - By Chance and By Design: A History of the PentacrestThe Pentacrest is named for the five familiar and imposing structures that grace the bluff overlooking the Iowa River. Old Capitol, constructed from locally mined limestone and capped by its distinctive gold dome, is surrounded by four buildings inspired by the Beaux-Arts Movement that figured so prominently in the Great White City of the 1893 Columbia Exposition in Chicago. These stately landmarks can rightly be regarded as monuments to the persistence and vision of the uncommon men and women who shaped the University of Iowa and who recognized that the character of an institution should be mirrored in its architecture. While the size and symmetry of these buildings suggest permanence and stability, the structures that preceded them were reflective of an institution that in many ways was still searching for its identity (and occasionally, its very existence). During the last fifty years of the 19th century, the Pentacrest was home to a variety of buildings, large and small, including barns, sheds, water-closets, and a four story brick structure that was moved across the street when it got in the way!

The texts and images displayed here are designed to acquaint the viewer with the rich and sometimes colorful history of what has variously been called, “University Square,” “Old Capitol Campus,” and, “the five spot.” Architect Geoffrey Jellicoe stated that, “Architecture is to make us know and remember who we are.” Regardless of century, the Pentacrest helps to provide new generations of students and faculty with a sense of place, community, and continuity.

The exhibit is organized primarily chronologically on the starting on the east wall and working clockwise to the west wall. The south wall cases contain selections of events on the Pentacrest while the center case contains the naming of the Pentacrest.

Acknowledgements

Exhibit Planning
Joyce Barker, Ed Holtum, Dean Koster, Linda Roth, Kathy Wachel

Production and Installation Assistance
Bill Voss and Kristin Baum.

Graphic Design
Dean Koster