cal lewis

An immeasurably sad week.  Iowa has lost one of its great architects, and many of us have lost a great friend and mentor.  Cal Lewis, who had been a partner in the Des Moines firm HLKB and then department chair at Iowa State for ten years, died Saturday. He’s left a legacy of buildings in Des Moines and throughout the state–many that he designed, many that he subtly influenced, encouraged, or nurtured into being through his quiet persistence and vision.  But more importantly, the people he supported, taught, and encouraged, during his career have gone on to found dedicated practices, to design thoughtful spaces and buildings, and to pass on his caring, challenging studio teaching.

Cal began his chairmanship the week I arrived at Iowa State, in 2000, and he was patient and supportive while I found my feet in academia.  (Years later he would admit to me that he was finding his as well).  He championed young faculty, finding ways for us to present at four or five conferences a year, realizing that exposure like that was important for our careers and for a program trying to make its mark nationally.  He and I shared a basement studio space in the College for three years, where I learned the craft of teaching from him and we convinced students that being hidden away gave us the advantage that no one knew what we were up to.  And, last year, Cal volunteered to nominate me for AIA Fellowship.  Joining him in the College of Fellows was a distinct honor, and the extra letter after my name is one of dozens of reminders of a career and a life that truly made a difference.