New UI School of Music building plans sustainable


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A modern, sustainable plan for the University of Iowa School of Music building hopes to do more than just offer a sleek place to study. Students and officials see the new building as a recruiting tool and a much needed “home base.”

As a replacement for the Voxman Music Building/Clapp Recital Hall, which was destroyed in the 2008 flood, the new building will be located in downtown Iowa City at the intersection of Burlington and Clinton Streets.

“The School of Music needs its own, specialized building — complete with concert halls designed for music-making, acoustically treated rehearsal rooms and faculty studios, practice rooms for students, etc.,” said Kevin Kastens, associate director of bands and director of the Hawkeye Marching Band.

The new building will be just that.

Comprising six stories totaling 90,000 square feet, the building will house a 700-seat performance hall, a 200-seat recital hall, an organ hall, rehearsal rooms, classrooms, studios, offices, and a music library.

A crescendo of innovation, the building will surpass Iowa’s sustainability standards, said Josh Rechkemmer, LEED architect for Neumann Monson Architects. Neumann Monson Architects is collaborating with the university to create the building.

“Seeking LEED Gold, [the] building [is] designed to reduce overall energy consumption far beyond Iowa energy code standard,” Rechkemmer said.

But energy efficiency isn’t the only novel aspect of the building, which will be completed May 2016.

Garnished with metal panels and glass windows, the building will serve as a cohesive community for all musical outlets.   

“Design concept is that of [a] ‘village’ made up of varied program spaces — an extension of the varied urban landscape of Iowa City,” Rechkemmer wrote in an email. “The volumetric program spaces of the building are linked by a sequence of public circulation spaces that lead on through the building. [There are] many transparent spaces in the building — glazing of exterior and re-lighting of interior spaces.”

Not only will the building be more contemporary, but also it will be more convenient.

“It’s a more vibrant location than the previous location,” Kastens said, remembering the Voxman Music Building/Clapp Recital Hall, which was located on the west side of campus.

With music courses and offices currently occupying numerous buildings on and off the UI campus, students find it difficult to travel from class to class.

“Everyone’s running all over the place,” sophomore music-education student and member of the Hawkeye Marching Band Jessica Runyon said. “It’s just really annoying having to go back and forth … It’s crazy.”

Junior music student Taylor Matuszeski agrees.

“Right now, it’s really difficult for some students to travel among five or six music buildings all the way across the campus,” Matuszeski said.

Further, music students and faculty feel that this addition to the school will draw attention to it and increase the program’s enrollment.

“It will help in the recruiting of music majors,” Kastens said.

Matuszeski said that having a home base for music majors will help.

“Throughout the last four years, our enrollment has dropped because we haven’t really had one central location for music, and that’s been a downfall,” Matuszeski said. “ …  We’ve lost a lot of students. Hopefully the new, state-of-the-art building…will bring some of that enrollment back.”

The music students and faculty aren’t the only ones benefitting. The new building will positively affect Iowa City’s downtown, UI spokesman Tom Moore said.

“The downtown area should also benefit from the presence of the School of Music, because it will be a performance venue, and that will add to the vitality of the downtown area,” Moore said.

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