After growing up among the architectural icons of Chicago, Calvin “Cal” F. Lewis, AIA, began his architectural career in Des Moines, IA at Charles Herbert and Associates. He received his formal architectural education from Iowa State University (ISU) where he graduated in 1970, while also earning All Big-8 Conference recognition in varsity football. From the beginning he displayed a focus on design, and for over thirty years he made significant contributions to the collaborative design process that drove the firm’s award-winning work. One of his early projects was the landmark adaptive-reuse of Meredith Corporation in Des Moines, IA, which received a “Best of Design” award from TIME magazine and led to his early recognition by Metropolitan Home magazine as one of the top young architects in the country.
The Meredith project became a pivotal influence in the regeneration of downtown Des Moines, setting the stage for a major addition to their building complex. The addition helped anchor the west end of the downtown, framing a new gateway entry into the central city and state Capitol beyond. The addition received a prestigious National AIA Honor Award in Architectural Design and an AIA Iowa “Building of the Decade” award. Both portions of the project played early leadership roles in the critical practice of energy conservation and sustainability.
In 1987, he was a founding principal of Herbert Lewis Kruse Blunck Architecture (HLKB), the evolution of the Herbert firm. In 2001 the firm was honored with the coveted National AIA Firm Award, the highest national recognition given to an architecture firm. During his tenure with the firm, they received an unprecedented 200 plus awards for design excellence at the state, regional, and national levels. Projects he led were honored with over 70 of those awards, including 15 at the national level; 3 received AIA Honor Awards for design excellence, the highest national design recognition bestowed by the architecture profession.
Many of those collaborative efforts have contributed to the quality of life and civic culture of the downtown community: Meredith Corporation Campus, Civic Center and Cowles Commons, Simon Estes Amphitheater, Des Moines Public Library Central Branch, Grays Lake Bridge, and the initial planning for Gateway Park, which later became the Pappajohn Sculpture Park.
In 1995, Lewis was elevated to National AIA Fellowship in the prestigious Category of Design by his national peers in the AIA, a status shared by only 1% of the profession. He is also among the select team of architects chosen to serve as national design consultants for the Federal GSA Design Excellence Program, which oversees numerous landmark projects for our government agencies.
He also exhibited a complimentary devotion to design education at Iowa State University. In his role as an alumnus, he chaired their Architecture Advisory Council (AAC) for nearly 20 years, and in 2000 he formalized his commitment to the academy when he was selected to lead the Department of Architecture as professor and chair. During Professor Lewis’ decade of leadership as chair (2000-2010), the department rose to national prominence and became consistently recognized as one of the top Architecture programs in the country. Surveys of the profession, conducted by the prestigious professional publication DesignIntelligence, ranked the program for 7 straight years through 2010, ranging from 7th to 14th out of the 115 architecture programs across the nation.
Professor Lewis has received over fifty invitations to lecture and serve on awards juries throughout the nation and in China. He was selected to chair the national awards jury for the 2015 National AIA Honor Awards in Architecture, the profession’s gold standard for design awards programs. Projects where he led the design process have been widely published in the full compliment of national architectural media, including a cover article in Architecture, when it was the national profession’s official and feature publication.
In 2009 AIA Iowa bestowed Lewis with their Medal of Honor, the architecture profession’s highest individual recognition from his peers within the state.
As an academic leader and respected design collaborator, Prof Cal Lewis FAIA helped explore, expand, and enrich the integral relationship between practice and the academy.
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