Originally submitted by Bobby Griffith, September 21, 2011, Drake University
Meredith Hall is the journalism department’s main building at Drake. Named for the former secretary of agriculture and esteemed founder of Meredith Publishing Company, Edwin Thomas Meredith, the black glass and steel building was conceived in December of 1961 with the unveiling of the architect’s plans . The famous 20th century architect Mies van der Rohe was hired as the chief designer. Born on March 27, 1886 in Aachen, Germany, Rohe was widely considered to be among the foremost architects of his time. Colleague Peter Carter considered him to be a “founding father of modern architecture and the master builder of steel and glass .
Drake’s Meredith Hall began construction in the summer of 1963, but because of delays due to soil and foundation problems, the building did not officially open until the fall of 1965 . The dedication ceremony was held at 3:00 pm on Thursday April 21, 1965. Present at the ceremony were the Dean of Journalism, Hugh Curtis, Senior VP of Meredith Company, Lester H. Mugge, Secretary and General Council of the Register and Tribune, Vincent Starzingerer, and the President of Meredith, Fred O. Brohen . The building’s design and construction confirmed to many at Drake of the university’s desire to create a campus that show-cased distinguished modern architecture. Meredith was actually only part of a 5 million dollar expansion project announced in November of 1959 .
Meredith cost 1.9 million dollars, a fraction of the total project cost. The expansion included plans for a fine arts building, a health and physical education building, an apartment for married students, and aid for the Great Teacher Program (plan for improving faculty salaries). Meredith Hall was the first general classroom building added to Drake’s campus since the late 1940s. This state-of-the-art, 244’ by 112’ structure was a huge improvement to Drake’s journalism department. There was a 60’ by 20’ radio and television studio with two closed-circuit cameras and full studio lighting. There was a graphic arts lab with professional press and off-set equipment. There was also a photographic darkroom, advertising lab and offices for the campus newspaper and university yearbook. The building could seat over 1,200 students at a time, and contained two large auditoriums, 19 classrooms, 4 seminar rooms, and faculty offices that encircled the 44’ by 66’ courtyard on the north end . The building was intended to show beauty through simplicity while its top two levels were buff-colored brick with American walnut trimming and paneling, and the lower levels had white walls and ceiling-high black doors .
Meredith Hall Today
The building was designed during a time when glass was relatively inexpensive and little attention was paid to wasting energy in the heating and cooling of buildings. In a report filed as far back as 1986, the ventilation system had already been replaced twice in an attempt to address the problem of sunlight beaming through the building. The report also documented that many of the glass panels had cracked or clouded up between the inner and outer panes. Fourteen had recently been replaced at a cost of $1,000 each and 85 others still needed replacing. It also suggested that there be a sunlight installed over the courtyard to increase student use and conserve energy .
Today Meredith Hall has revamped its classroom and studio technology with the most up-to-date computers and cameras. The local campus radio station, 94.1 The Dog, is broadcasted by students from the radio studio inside the basement of Meredith and it remains one of the most recognizable buildings on campus.
 Bader, J. (1986, March 14). Hall sees two events. Times-Delphic, pp.1  E.T. Meredith Hall ready for dedication. (1965, April 21). Times-Delphic, pp.1  Ground to break soon for $5,000,000 project. (1961, January 6). Times-Delphic, pp.1  Drake University. (Thursday, April 22, 1965). Drake Week ’65 Meredith Hall [Cowles Library Archive File – Dedication Program]. Des Moines, IA: Drake University  Drake University. (n.d.). Meredith Hall [Cowles Library Archive File – News Release]. Des Moines, IA: Drake University  Drake’s Mies. (1986). Business Record, 17-23. pp. 35