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University of Iowa News Release

June 2, 2005

UI's Stanley Hydraulics Laboratory Named National Historic Landmark

The University of Iowa College of Engineering's C. Maxwell Stanley Hydraulics Laboratory will be named a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) at a formal ceremony beginning at 10 a.m. Thursday, June 9. The ceremony is free and open to the public.

The ASCE award -- the 196th presented nationally and the second (in addition to the Keokuk Dam) given in Iowa -- is presented for landmarks that are "unique" and that have "contributed to the development of the nation or at least a very large region." The Stanley Hydraulics Laboratory plaque reads: "Initially constructed in 1919, this facility is the oldest university-based hydraulics laboratory in the U.S. that continuously has focused on research and education in hydraulic engineering."

The Stanley Hydraulics Laboratory, located at the intersection of Burlington Street and Riverside Drive, houses IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, one of the world's premier and oldest fluids research and engineering laboratories. Renamed in 2003 for UI and IIHR graduate and prominent Iowa industrialist/philanthropist C. Maxwell Stanley, the laboratory attracts students and visitors from around the world. IIHR research activities, funded by agreements and contracts with a variety of private organizations and governmental agencies, have a national and international impact.

In 1919, the laboratory was a small brick cubicle above the Burlington Street dam on the Iowa River. The first researcher and director, Floyd Nagler, developed a program of river surveys and small-scale hydraulic modeling. To firmly establish and broaden the research program, he founded IIHR in 1931 and, by 1932, he had built the present hydraulics laboratory, with over 50 times as much floor space as the original building.

IIHR's hydraulic modeling efforts in the 1930s were instrumental in planning the current nine-foot navigation channel of the Upper Mississippi River, with its locks and dams. During World War II, IIHR researchers developed nozzles for fighting fires at sea, discovered methods to disperse fog over British landing fields, performed investigations of water movement around torpedo heads and conducted their first studies in ship hydrodynamics.

After the war, IIHR Director Hunter Rouse focused the laboratory on basic fluid mechanics. Rouse, a pioneer in writing texts and teaching courses on fundamental fluid mechanics, helped establish IIHR's international reputation as a premier educational and research laboratory. Starting in the 1960s, IIHR Director John F. Kennedy expanded the emphasis on applied studies, resulting in many grants and industrial contracts for studies of the environmental effects of hydraulic structures and water pollution. An expansion and diversification of the research program led IIHR to construct multiple laboratory annexes, each fitted with sophisticated flow-diagnostics equipment.

Today's combination of applied and theoretical research nurtures a great diversity of projects, ranging from laboratory, field and numerical studies of specific hydraulic structures to multimillion-dollar investigations aimed at river restoration; basin-scale hydrology and atmospheric sciences; and fundamental fluid mechanics.

Stanley, who died in 1984, made wide-ranging contributions to the UI, including the building he helped "draft" in the late 1920s. Stanley began work on the design and construction of a three-story hydraulics laboratory (what is now the north wing of the building) following his graduation from the UI in 1926. The renaming also recognized nearly $1 million in commitments to the Hydraulics Laboratory Renovation Project from Stanley's family, friends and many business colleagues in the Muscatine community and beyond.

The renovation, completed in 2002, retained the integrity of the building's structural components and its historical significance, with riveted steel beams and walls of the original construction reflecting IIHR's rich research tradition and the generations of students and staff who began or made careers there. Exterior changes included construction of a new north entrance, which allows on-grade accessibility.

In the 1950s, Stanley and his wife, Betty, created The Stanley Foundation, a private foundation to promote a secure peace with freedom and justice, through dialogue and education.

As one of the UI College of Engineering's most outstanding graduates, Stanley (1926 B.S.E., engineering; 1930 M.S., hydraulics) was inducted into the college's Distinguished Engineering Alumni Academy as a charter member in 1996. He extensively supported the University's educational mission through substantial contributions, years of service on volunteer boards and the posthumous donation of a major African art collection to the University of Iowa Museum of Art.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. Persons with disabilities who require an accommodation in order to participate should contact the laboratory in advance at or 319-335-5237.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009,