Stanley Hydraulics Laboratory

Stanley Hydraulics Laboratory


320 South Riverside Drive
Formal Name: 
C. Maxwell Stanley Hydraulics Laboratory
Proudfoot, Rawson and Souers, Des Moines, Iowa (north wing)/ George Horner, University of Iowa (central block and south wing, 1933)

The C. Maxwell Stanley Hydraulics Laboratory, also known simply as the Stanley Hydraulics Laboratory (SHL), was designed as a wet laboratory for hydraulic engineering research and teaching. Before its 2002 renovation, it contained scale models of hydraulic structures such as rivers, dams, and culverts. There were also flumes, weighing tanks, measuring basins, and a pump room. The experimental channel that originally fed water from the Iowa River through the sub-basement was later converted to a 290-foot-long model ship towing tank. In 2003, the Hydraulics Laboratory was renamed in honor of 1926 engineering graduate C. Maxwell Stanley. The structure is home to the College of Engineering’s IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering.

Much like its Power Plant neighbor, the Stanley Hydraulics Laboratory is of utilitarian design but with reference to architecture of the past. Best seen from the east side of the river, the building is a composite of two distinct styles. Both north and south wings have arched neo-Romanesque windows similar to the contemporaneous Power Plant directly across the river, but the separation between floors can be seen through the glass, demonstrating the nonweight-bearing function of the walls and announcing a modern steel-frame construction. In place of these historical features, the vertical fins of central block indicate an Art Moderne streamlined effect for the tower. UI architect George Horner’s intervention here seems to have been decisive for the stylistic shift in the central tower. This was one of his first designs for the campus. The 2002 renovation, which converted most of the building to office space while maintaining its historic features, also added a walled service unit at the top and a stylistically compatible entrance pavilion on the north façade. The American Society of Civil Engineers has designated the Stanley Hydraulics Laboratory a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. It is the oldest university-based research and education hydraulics laboratory in the U.S.


This building is accessible to persons with disabilities.

The main building entrance is located at the north end of the building and is accessible to persons with disabilities. It includes a power door opener.
Accessible parking is located south of the building.
All restrooms are accessible to individuals with disabilities.
The building elevator is located midway in the main corridor.