Seamans Center

Seamans Center

Seamans Center

What You'll Find Here

  • College of Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering Department
  • Chemical and Biochemical Engineering Department
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering Department
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering Department
  • Engineering Library
  • Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department
  • Classrooms and faculty offices


103 South Capitol Street
Formal Name: 
Seamans Center for the Engineering Arts and Sciences
Proudfoot and Bird, Des Moines, Iowa

The Engineering Building was the first University structure to jump Washington Street and move south of the Pentacrest. Since that time there have been a total of seven additions to the original building. The three most important of these are Mechanical Engineering, 1932; Electrical Engineering, 1964; and, the most comprehensive of all, a south addition and restructuring of much of the interior, 2001. Gary F. Seamans, 1971 graduate of the College of Engineering, and his wife Camille made a major gift to the college, and the entire Engineering Building complex was renamed in their honor.
Originally known as the Engineering Building, the Capitol Street façade of the Seamans Center was the second Beaux-Arts–inspired building on the UI campus designed by Proudfoot and Bird. Only nearby Schaeffer Hall is older. The design offers a twist to the more correct Classicism seen on the Pentacrest. Horizontal channeling at the entrance on Capitol Street reverses Schaeffer’s notions of rusti- cation by placing those elements above, while the podium below is finished smoothly (an arrangement later followed at Macbride). Playful departures, such as the superimposition of orders (Ionic pilasters overlap Doric at the entrance), underscaled capitals, and domestic- looking windows of the central bay are intentional “mistakes” that give the Seamans Center its air of slight irreverence. Ornament, including a proud palmette at the apex of the pediment and wreathed medallions beneath the cornice, add further embellishment. Note the series of panels above the second-story windows; years from 1906 through 1927, carved engineering instruments, and other details all attach context to the design and communicate what goes on inside to passersby. The modernized addition to the south, constructed in 2001, creates an inviting entrance, which communicates a spacious new interior while paying homage to the adjacent, original structure by repeating its horizontal banding and stone finish.


The building is accessible to persons with disabilities.

The main building entrance if fully accessible via a short ramp. It is located at the southeast corner of the building. A secondary accessible entrance is located at the northeast corner of the building.
Accessible parking spaces are located along South Capitol St. just east of the building.
Accessible restrooms are located throughout the building.
There are two elevators in the building. One is located in the center of the west wing and the other in the south center of the building.