Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Hubbell Dining Hall

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Institution Name: Drake University
Original/Historic Place Name: Hubbell Dining Hall
Location on Campus: west corner of campus
Date(s) of Construction:
1951original construction Saarinen, Saarinen & Associates
Designer: Saarinen, Saarinen & Associates
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Modern/post-WWII (Glossary)
Significance: architecture
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: concrete
Walls: brick masonry
Roof: built up roof
1951-present (2006)dining hall (primary dining hall for dormitories)

Eero Saarinen designed Hubbell Dining Hall for Drake University in 1951. The building has served as the primary dining facility for the residence halls on campus since its construction. Hubbell was designed in conjunction with the Quad dorms, including Herriott, Carpenter, Stalnaker, and Crawford. The building is constructed of concrete and brick panels, glass curtain walls, and steel structure. In later years, Harry Weese and Associates designed an addition for the dining hall. The existing original building and addition embody an example of modern architecture and have distinctive characteristics of its architectural period.

Hubbell Dining Hall is located on the west side of Helmick Commons, the main open space on the west side of campus. Saarinen designed the dining hall as an independent building and arranged the residence halls around it in order to highlight its role as a student common space. The building's north-south orientation forms a series of open spaces that lead from the larger campus space to the smaller residence space. The natural topography of the site was retained by Saarinen, and a water pool was created in the space of the dining and residence halls. The pool does not exist anymore, however. The ravine space between the residences is currently being renovated as a garden space.

The rectangular form of the building was very common for buildings of its time. Large glass openings and an open interior plan were also common characteristics of the period. The large windows frame views of the surrounding landscape and strengthen the connection between the interior and exterior environments. The building is nestled into the topography as a one-story structure to the north and a two-story structure to the south. The southern end of the building opens to the natural ravine, which is framed by the residence halls.


"A University Campus Plan Underway for Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, Saarinen, Swanson and Saarinen, Architects." Architectural Record 102 (December 1947): 71-87.


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Last update: November 2006