UI selects architects to design new School of Music

BY SAM LANE | NOVEMBER 16, 2010 7:20 AM

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University of Iowa officials have selected LMN Architects — a Seattle-based firm with a "wealth of experience" in designing performing-arts spaces — to design the new music building.

The building is slated to be constructed on the south side of the intersection of Clinton and Burlington Streets. Students and faculty in the School of Music are scheduled to move in late 2014.

LMN joins the project's Iowa City-based architect of record, Neumann-Monson, in creating the two-part structure.

"LMN had, first of all, a tremendous vision for what this building could be," said David Gier, the director of the School of Music. "It focused on the implications to the School of Music and the university as a whole."

A mixed-use tower will be built on the east side of Clinton — currently the Hieronymus Square parking lot — and will house the primary functions of the School of Music on four-and-a-half floors.

It will also have commercial spaces, underground parking, and private condominiums.

The portion on the west side of Clinton — the current location of MidWestOne Bank and Bank of the West — will include additional School of Music functions, including the replacement for the Clapp Recital Hall. An overhead pedestrian bridge will connect the two parts across Clinton.

Officials have yet to determine cost estimates for the project, which will replace the buildings the department lost in the 2008 floods.

According to documents submitted to the state Board of Regents, the regents will approve the project description and budget in September 2011 and a construction contract in June 2012.

LMN was selected from a group of four finalists.

"We have a strong portfolio in music and the performing arts," said Sam Miller, an LMN partner. "But beyond that, we have the passion and commitment to work with the school for the best project."

Miller said LMN and the UI have yet to work out a financial agreement for the designs.

The firm is credited with designing Benaroya Hall, home of the Seattle Symphony, as well as the renovation of Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, home of the Seattle Opera & Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Each building has won numerous architectural awards.

Kevin Monson, the president of Neumann-Monson, said it's "very common" for a local architect to be the architect of record, which essentially oversees the project.

"[LMN brings] with it a wealth of fantastic work as well as a sympathetic emphasis on sustainability, which we think is extremely important," Monson said.

In this case, Monson said, LMN will serve as the project's specialist for performing arts. He said the firm will also find consultants for acoustics, theater design, mechanical, and electrical aspects.

And though roughly three-fourths of current UI students in the School of Music won't even get to experience the new building, Gier said they'll play an important role in the planning process.

"We're building a School of Music for future generations," he said.

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