Celebration marks new beginnings for UI arts programs, facilities


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While University of Iowa officials say music- and art-focused enrollment initially decreased after the loss of several Arts Campus facilities in the flood of 2008, popularity for those programs are on the upswing.

They hope the start of a new wave of Arts Campus construction will attract more students than ever.

In celebrating the beginning of new facility construction for the UI School of Art and Art History, School of Music, and Hancher, the UI Foundation will hold “Arts & Minds: A Celebration of Partnership” at 3:30 p.m. today on the Pentacrest.

The ceremony is to feature remarks from government officials, university leaders, faculty, staff, and students, UI spokesman Tom Moore wrote in an email.  He said the event will also thank state and federal leaders who have aided these projects.

Among the festivities include a preview performance by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, which was the opening act for Hancher in 1972.

Partners include UI College of Engineering, UI College of Education, the Interdisciplinary Flood Workshop, the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, and the Iowa Flood Center.

Sen. Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville, said he is glad to see construction beginning on the new buildings.

“This is a pretty exciting time for the University of Iowa to move forward with getting some of these Art Campus buildings done,” he said.  “It’s just another step in recovery from the flood, and it’s a strong time for the university.”

Rod Lehnertz, the UI Facilities Management director of planning design and construction, wrote in an email that the total estimated cost to the university following the 2008 natural disaster is expected to be between $700 million and $800 million.

School of Art and Art History

Following floodwater inundation on the Arts Campus, the UI School of Art and Art History relocated to a temporary space in an old Menards building, 1375 Highway 1 W., and renamed it the Studio Arts Building

But soon enough, it will finally return to its original stomping grounds.

UI reports submitted to the state Board of Regents for its June 5 meeting indicate that construction on a replacement art facility is slated for completion in April 2016.

When open, both Art Building West — which reopened in October 2011 as the only fully flood-recovered campus building — and the replacement art building will be located next door to each other, once again reuniting the program.

UI junior and graphic design major Chance Morgan said he is eager to see the completion of the new facility.

“Personally, I’m really excited about it because I’ve seen pictures of the projected building,” he said. “The Arts Campus has its own area and personality. I really like the environment of it, and it really helps to know that I have one specific place where I can go to work on all my projects.”

To date, the university has spent a little more than $8 million on the construction of the new art facilty and demolition of the old building, the regents’ report said.

Steven Holl Architects will design the new art building in collaboration with BNIM Architects, according to the art-school officials.

School of Music

While the 2008 flood shifted UI art operations into one primary location, the results for the UI School of Music have been quite different. Today, the school is housed in 19 different locations.
But, with preliminary work started on the new music-building site, university musicians will one day gather under one roof.

According to UI Facilities Management, the school will measure 90,000 square feet and among things will include a 700-seat performance hall and 200-seat recital hall on the building’s second floor.

Seattle-based LMN Architects has been chosen to design the new state-of-the-art building.
Construction is scheduled for completion in May 2016, the regents’ report said. Construction bids indicate that the project will cost roughly $98.24 million, Facilities Management said.


Once known for its renowned musical and theatrical performances, Hancher now sits unused and forlorn. Today, it stands as only a reminder of what once was.

Prior to the summer of 2008, the building stood as an Arts Campus centerpiece along the Iowa River.

The new facility, expected to seat 1,800 with two balconies, will include a separate space for programming, UI Facilities Management said. The building will be designed in scale with the Levitt Center.

New Haven, Conn.-based Pelli Clarke Pelli, will design the new building, a Sept. 14, 2010, UI news release said.

The UI told the DI in a June 10 article that the project is expected to total more than $175 million. Recent state regents reports indicate that the facility will reopen in March 2016.

Looking to the Future

When construction is completed on the new arts buildings, university officials anticipate that the UI’s arts program will have one of the most valuable arts campuses in the nation.

“We are anticipating that as we build the most modern, state-of-the-art fine arts facilities on a public university campus in the nation, if not the world, that the University of Iowa arts program will be back better and stronger than ever,” Moore said in an email.

Moore said the new arts buildings will not only serve the university but the state as well.

“We are building a 21st-century arts campus that will define creativity in the university and serve our campus, community, and state for generations to come,” he said.

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