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UI officials announce updated flood-recovery plans

BY CHASTITY DILLARD | FEBRUARY 08, 2012 7:20 AM

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University of Iowa students may be one small step closer toward a campus unblemished by flood damage.

The 2008 flood devastated more than one-sixth of the campus. At a meeting Tuesday night in the recently renovated Art Building West, UI officials shared with community members design and flood-recovery plans for the new Hancher Auditorium, the new music facility, the Art Building, and the IMU.

Rod Lehnertz, the director of planning, design, and construction for UI Facilities Management, said though progress has been made, recovery is still at a midpoint.

"It is a long process as we work with FEMA to establish not only the funding, but it's the process of completing the projects," he said. "This marks an important milestone for the community to see progress and to have something to look forward to in the recovery and this is a sign that [the projects are] moving."

FEMA officials have dedicated $386 million to build a new auditorium, the new music building, and Art Building East.

Art Building East will be demolished, and a new facility will be built on the west campus, with a slated completion date of August 2013. The new Hancher will be located across from the Levitt Center, set to be completed December 2015. The new music building, at the intersection of Clinton and Burlington Streets, is set to be completed August 2016.

"We are just getting started, but it feels great," said UI President Sally Mason. "What is especially exciting about tonight … is that we are able to show you something real [and] show you that our campus renewal is not only a concept or an idea, but is real."

UI officials also met with the state Board of Regents Tuesday to present their latest updates. Regents will approve the funding for the art-facility, Hancher, and music-building designs at their meeting next month.

Lynette Marshall, the president and CEO of the UI Foundation, said the foundation is moving ahead with fundraising efforts for the music and art programs.

"We have a unique opportunity to completely rebuild [the music and art facilities]," she said. "The arts and music programs are critical to the university's mission of giving a well-rounded University of Iowa education."

The UI Foundation will soon launch the University Comprehensive Campaign to raise $30 million for the art and music programs — a feat Marshall said that has never before been accomplished.

School of Music Director David Gier said the school is excited about this important step.

"The School of Music faculty is enthusiastic about the site and what the architects have envisioned, and we look forward to any tangible signs of progress toward the completion of our facility," he said.

Chuck Swanson, Hancher's executive director, said the program is also glad to finally see progress.

"We have been working on this for over a year, and I do feel like the team has done an incredible job in understanding our vision," he said. "The tragedy of the flood really ended up being a good thing for us to be able to design something to take us into the 21st century for years to come."


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