The Vocational Arts Building (VA), one of the oldest buildings at ISU, was originally named the Vocational Building and Hangar. It was constructed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) between 1936 and 1939 in a style now known as WPA Rustic (a combination of neo-classical and art deco architecture, strongly influenced by the American craftsman style).
The WPA (renamed in 1939 as the Work Projects Administration) was the largest and most ambitious American New Deal agency of the Great Depression, employing millions of people (mostly unskilled men) to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads.
The south end of the VA, facing Reed Gym, contained classrooms and workshops and the north end, shaped like a Quonset hut, was a hangar for the aeronautics program. A runway for the take-off and landing of small aircraft extended from there at a diagonal to the northeast, the spaces now occupied by Memorial Drive and the Holt Arena. It was in use during World War II for the initial training of Navy pilots and aircraft mechanics.