Unusual Finds from the Knowles Blunck Architecture collection

Today’s blog post is a highlight into a new collection currently being processed by Ashley, one of the many wonderful student workers SCUA has working behind the scenes to make sure  we are able to provide access to as many collections as possible. Our student workers help with just about any task you can imagine; if you’ve ever been to SCUA then you’ve benefited from all the work they do!

This collection came to us late 2016, and is very large – about 60 boxes. The architectural firm that donated it, Knowles Blunck Architecture, has many connections to ISU and we hope that the students studying in the Department of Architecture will benefit from the many projects and years of experience documented in this collection. The Collection contains images of sites during all phases of the design and build process, award submissions, floor plans, and much more.

Once this collection is fully processed and available for researchers, we’ll post again with more details!

Rosalie Gartner
Lead Processing Archivist

At the beginning of May, I started working on MS 703, a collection donated by an architecture firm called Knowles Blunck Architecture. This Des Moines based firm donated materials chronicling their various projects through documents, slides, photos, and negatives. My previous project largely contained only paper records, so I was excited to work with new formats. When I was first assigned this project I was informed of two things: all the materials were organized into binders and this collection could contain dirt from the firm’s job sites. Since then I have gone through many boxes filled with binders and the dirt is not actually the strangest material I have discovered in this collection. While processing the collection I have found wallpaper, photos with speech bubbles drawn in, and even homemade panoramas.  These materials stuck out to me, so I decided to focus on them in this blog post.

Dirt from various job sites can be found in some of the binders.

Knowles Blunck Binder with Dirt

This picture shows how much dirt from a work site came out of a binder.



These swatches of wallpaper were taken during a renovation Knowles Blunck completed in the East Village in Des Moines, Iowa. They were in a building located at 420 Locust Street and are undated.

Wallpaper samples taken out of 420 Locust St, Des Moines, IA during renovation.


When Knowles Blunck was Herbert Lewis Kruse Blunck, the firm worked on an addition to Drake Legal Clinic in which they added a mock court room which can be seen in this homemade panorama. This collection has contained many photos taped together to show a larger range of certain rooms.

Knowles Blunck Panorama

This shows the full layout of the panorama they created by taping together 15 individual photographs.


KB Panorama

Another view of the panorama shot.


This photo is also from the addition at Drake Legal Clinic. It was taken in a room containing audio visual equipment. This photo is not the only photo I have discovered with writing on it, but it is the only one I have seen with a speech bubble.


This shows one of the doodles added to a photograph in this collection.


I am still processing this collection, but once I have finished I will write a blog post announcing that it is open to researchers. Also, be ready for an upcoming post sharing Knowles Blunck’s connection to Iowa State University, including our very own Parks Library.


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