The Harkin Institute and Drake University celebrated a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Institute’s new building on Friday, May 17.
The Harkin Institute is in the final stages of fundraising for a building at the southwest corner of 28th Street and University Avenue, which will serve as a model of universal design. It will also provide much-needed space for Institute staff, researchers, and programming as the organization continues to grow.
“This building is going to be a great asset to Drake, but also to Des Moines and also to the nation,” said Senator Tom Harkin (retired) during the groundbreaking ceremony. “Not only is this building going to be visually beautiful, but practically beautiful.”
The building was designed by the BNIM architecture firm in Des Moines with accessibility as a top priority. BNIM worked closely with the Institute’s 15-member National Disability Policy Advisory Committee to identify key components of a truly inclusive space.
The building provides additional space for research fellows, public programming and to display materials from the archival collections of Senator Tom Harkin and Ruth Harkin.
“In its six years of existence, the Institute has served as a venue and catalyst for dynamic, nonpartisan research, learning and outreach to promote understanding of the policy issues to which Senator Harkin devoted his career,” said Marsha Ternus, chairwoman of the Institute’s National Advisory Council and the Institute’s first executive director.
“This new building will allow the Institute to address these issues in a substantial and meaningful way,” Ternus said.
Drake University President Marty Martin said the new space aligns well with the university’s vision as an anchor institution for the Drake Neighborhood.
“In three years time, you’re going to come back and you’re going to see a completely transformed landscape. New buildings, new functions, new street, new activities, new amenities,” Martin said. “We’re really thrilled that The Harkin Institute’s going to be right in the heart of that.”
Ruth Harkin credited Drake with enabling the Institute to grow and be nimble in its response to a rapidly changing society.
“We are unique in creating this forward-thinking Institute with an exemplary and talented, skilled team at the ready,” Ruth Harkin said. “This spectacular building is a tribute to that and to that team.