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Students, officials meet with School of Music design firms

BY ARIANA WITT | FEBRUARY 17, 2011 7:20 AM

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Rooftop performance space, communication among departments, and more rehearsal rooms are some of the things University of Iowa School of Music students asked the design firms to include in their plans for a new music building.

UI officials and students have spent the last two days meeting with the three firms involved in building the new facility.

While officials have been planning for the past year, they have been able to take more definitive steps since the state Board of Regents approved necessary land purchases two weeks ago.

Officials added two East Coast companies to the project last month, said David Gier, director of the School of Music. UI officials met with representatives from the three firms on the project — Fisher Dachs Associates, JaffeHolden, LMN Architects — Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss plans and listen to students.

“We looked at the absolute best firms in the U.S. and selected [Fisher Dachs Associates and JaffeHolden] because of the quality of their work and experience,” Gier said. “They’ve exhibited an appreciation of this big undertaking.”

Fisher Dachs Associates, located in New York City, will act as a consultant on the theater projects, while the JaffeHolden firm from Norwalk, Conn., will oversee acoustic jobs.

University officials selected LMN Architects — a Seattle-based firm — in November to head the overall design project.

On Feb. 3, the regents approved the UI’s $4.6 million purchase of MidwestOne Bank, 325 S. Clinton St., Officials plan to build the new music facility on the site.

Regents previously approved the $3.1 million purchase of the Bank of the West, 301 N. Clinton St.

In addition, UI officials plan to purchase condominium space from the privately developed Hieronymus Square Associates LLC for classrooms and offices.

Mark Reddington, a partner at LMN, said it’s still early in the design process, but architects are considering building a skywalk to connect the two facilities, something the firm has done before.

“We’ll be working hard to create a great community project and to create acoustically excellent performance spaces,” Reddington said.

Students on the music school’s first Student Advisory Council also met with the companies and UI officials Tuesday and raised the issue of separation between proposed in the project, said Dan Spencer, a second-year UI graduate student and member of the council.

“It’s not always easy to meet people in other departments,” Spencer said. “The idea of needing to travel to another building to do so we definitely feel is a problem.”

The council formed last semester as a way voice concerns student have for the school, Spencer said, including those related to the rebuild.

“I think the council is important for the governance of the school overall,” Gier said. “The student perspective is critical to our project’s success. To have direct student input on how we plan for the future is very important.”

Reddington said LMN designs for the music facility won’t be completed until later this year, and meeting with those at the UI are scheduled to continue this week.


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