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Graphic Design Studio Updates

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The Graphic Design studio classrooms of Iowa State's College of Design are in need of updating. They have not received renovations or updates for at least 5 years. The existing studios are unsuitable for the students and faculty of the Graphic Design program. There are a number of problems including lack workspace, cluttered studios, lack of resources, and a lack of accessibility to studios after class. That makes the studios unsuitable for effective use by students and faculty in the Graphic Design Department.

Graphic Design, out of all the design programs at the College of Design, is the program with the least amount of space per student out of all the programs within the College of Design. The space that the students of Graphic are provided creates distraction, doesn't provide adequate space for personal or collaborative work, and is rarely accessible to students outside of classroom time. Faculty frequently express that Graphic Design is more than a relationship with a computer, however our studios do not reflect that belief what so ever. Our tables are small and provide minimal space to work upon and class time often feels suffocating due to the close quarters we are required to work in. There are frequently not enough chairs in our studios for everyone to even sit. The hanging electrical outlets are distracting and some do not work properly or even at all. Our studios are also constantly cluttered with items that are not needed or utilized including previous projects, miscellaneous objects, etc.

This means that the little space that we are given is further reduced, meaning that the estimated square footage of space for each graphic student (approximately 82 sq ft) is less than the already low estimation. Graphic Design studios are also frequently locked after hours and students are rarely provided with the codes to enter them. Graphic Design students are frequently locked out of the only workspaces dedicated to them.

Architecture, Industrial Design, Interior Design, and Landscape Architecture all have studios with greater amounts of table space as well as environments that encourage collaboration. These programs have at least one year of studio where the studio classes are all taught within a single room that is divided up by class. This not only encourages collaboration, but it strengthens the community of the program as well. The Graphic Design program, however, does not have a single dedicated space that allows all of the students within a graduating class of Graphic to work simultaneously. The largest Graphic studio still only holds on average 25 working students at a time, which is less than a third of Graphic Design graduating classes. On top of already low estimates for space per Graphic Design student, one of the four studios dedicated to Graphic Design undergraduates is now being used for Landscape Architecture classes.

 The College of Design lacks an adequate space for Graphic Design students to properly learn fundamental photography skills. The University of Minnesota provides their graphic design students with a photo imaging lab, a specific studio set up for taking professional photography as well as video. The school of Journalism at Iowa State has a more complete photography studio space than what is provided to Graphic Design students. The College of Design has a technology lab that allows students to rent out equipment that is necessary or useful for class and projects however, there is not sufficient equipment to support the entirety of the College of Design and it is often difficult for students to rent equipment needed to complete class project. Much of the available equipment is either damaged or out of date. This means that faculty have to often risk their own equipment in order to provide their students with resources they are learning and need to utilize. This is unfair to faculty as well as students. 

Renovated studio spaces for the Graphic Design program would inspire creativity, spark collaboration, as well as facilitate productivity. Not only would improving studio spaces benefit current students, it would also make Iowa State’s Graphic Design program more desirable to prospective students, resulting in a more competitive program. Providing work spaces that have ample table space, working and non-distracting outlets would increase productivity and encourage collaboration within class as well as outside. Providing more resources, such as a photography studio, would better prepare students for the professional world and give them the opportunity to learn fundamental skills that are expected upon entering a career. 



 We, the undersigned, petition the administration of the College of Design at Iowa State University to support our request for updating the Graphic Design Studios, facilities, and resources. The current studios limit students’ learning environment and productive work time, therefore restrict current as well as future opportunities. They have not been updated for at least 5 years.

The few studios dedicated to the undergraduate Graphic Design program:

-       Inaccessible outside of class, which discourages students from working collaboratively as well as inhibits the well-being of the Graphic Design community as a whole.

-       Lack workable table space, which creates distraction, inhibits productivity, and discourages students from attending class.

-       Lack working outlets that do not distract from class, causing difficulty to be productive during valuable class time.

-       Lack a space and required equipment to learn fundamental photography skills, inhibiting potential career opportunities.

These are all basic aspects of studio that should be a priority in order to provide students the proper education they are paying for. Graphic Design students should be provided facilities and resources to properly learn fundamental skills such as photography and printing. Proper photography and printing facilities and resources are only provided to graphic design students upon enrollment of classes through the Integrated Studio Arts program. The 'photography lab' provided to Graphic students on the fifth floor of Design is equivalent in quality to any of the other graphic design studios. 

We, the undersigned, request the following updates to be completed by the Spring semester of 2019:

-       Studios that are made accessible to students outside of class.

-       Larger tables or desks that allow adequate work space for students to individually or collaboratively work.

-       Properly functioning electrical outlets that do not cause distraction during class time.

-       Properly functioning photography equipment that is necessary for fundamental skills learned in photography studios required for a completion of a Graphic Design degree,


Updating the Graphic Design studios, resources, and facilities will not only improve the educational well-being of current students, but will also make the College of Design at Iowa State a better option for prospective students considering Graphic Design. Providing students with adequate work spaces will inspire creativity, spark collaboration, and facilitate productivity, all of which are essential to the success of any designer. 


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