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Boyd Law Building

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1985–1986, Gunnar Birkerts and Associates. Grand Ave., north of S. Riverside Dr.
  • Boyd Law Building (David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim)
  • Boyd Law Building (David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim)

Here is another example of the University of Iowa's homage to the purity of geometry—in this case the circular drum. Birkerts is quoted as saying that he selected this self-contained form as an expression of “perfection, clarity, integrity, and geometric purity”; 37 all of this, of course, has a ring of the late eighteenth-century French architect and theorist EtienneLouis Boullee, or of Le Corbusier in his Towards a New Architecture (1922). Birkerts has taken the five-level cylinder and then proceeded to cut into it in various ways. As is usually the case when one designs a circular building, the architect ends up trying to fit rectangular spaces within curved spaces, with, as one would expect, mixed results. Much of the building is sheathed in silver-colored aluminum, including a centerpiece of a small dome that tops the building. The rationale cited for the dome is that it mirrors the Old Capitol building's dome across the river. Much of the law building seems to be a well-detailed high-tech design of the 1980s; other spaces and exterior forms have the quality of science fiction about them.


Gunnar Birkerts, 107.

Writing Credits

David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim


What's Nearby


David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim, "Boyd Law Building", [Iowa City, Iowa], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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