ISU architecture revives 3-D pavilion for Iowa State Fair
Shelby Doyle, assistant professor of architecture at Iowa State University, assembles LED lights throughout the IM_RU2 pavilion on Monday in the midst of setup for the Iowa State Fair, which opens today. Photo by Kate Hayden

Inside the Varied Industries building at the Iowa State Fair, about 4,000 recyclable pieces will tower over visitors at the Iowa State University exhibit.

All together, the pavilion has 3,200 printed joints, 400 LED lights and 400 mirrors making up the installation.

The installation, called IM_RU2, is printed out a recyclable, plant-based plastic, said Shelby Doyle, assistant professor of architecture at ISU and a Daniel J. Huberty fellow.

The piece was designed at the Computation and Construction Lab in ISU’s College of Design. Fifteen students in Doyle’s digital fabrication technologies class ‘Fabricating Potentials’ started working with materials compatible with a Dremel 3-D printer – four of which will be on display.

“It was really about seeing what the students could do,” Doyle said.

The installation’s first design debuted at the Flyover Fashion Festival in Iowa City earlier this year, where the team was invited to the Iowa State Fair, Doyle said. Fairgoers who visit the Varied Industries building will see the project re-designed specifically to fit into the state fair space, taking up 1,800-square-feet.

“The design is looking at, can we use this relatively affordable technology to do a full-scale construction?” Doyle said. “When this is all lit up, you have these fragmented versions, like pieces of yourself, so that it’s an opportunity to realize that you never see yourself in full. You always see yourself in context of other people.”

The mirrors and cubes play off scattered pixels – and Erin Hunt, Computation and Construction lab associate, expects it’ll be a popular space for selfies, as it was at Flyover Fashion Week.

“Some people like to look at themselves and then try to find other people within the mirror and try to see other people within the mirrors, try to see all the different reflections,” Hunt said. “A lot of selfies happen.”

“When you’re standing here, you might [see] someone else’s foot or your face … It’s supposed to be about the identity politics of being an individual in the world, but we’re also part of a collective, which I think at this moment in time is an important thing to remember, ” Doyle said.

“There’s a value to design, and there’s a lot of potential to design and design education,” Doyle added. “ISU is one of the places that invented computing, so we also have this large industrial knowledge base, and people who know how to make things …I think this is a good example of what you can do as an innovation and a little bit of money.”

Friday, 8:44 a.m.: This story has been corrected. Shelby Doyle is a Daniel J. Huberty fellow. We regret the error.