UI makes headway on IMU, arts campus flood recovery


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As the debris of destruction lingers on the grounds of the old Hancher Auditorium, University of Iowa officials are anxious for the start of construction on the new music and art buildings east and west sides of the river — and also to renovate parts of the IMU.

Nov. 4 marked the beginning of the $7.5 million flood reconstruction of the IMU ground floor, which had previously been slated to finish in February 2015. The reconstruction will be finished in June 2015.

UI spokesman Tom Moore said construction had been delayed because the UI had to meet Federal Emergency Management Agency standards.

“We had to ensure all the FEMA requirements were met,” he said. “FEMA is obligated to fund us, but we had to make sure the project was up to standards.”

Across campus, the new Hancher complex is on time and on budget for the final phase of demolition, which is predicted to end this calendar year. The new music facility will be located at the intersection of Burlington and Clinton Streets.

“With more than 300 free performances per year, it is a great opportunity to enhance the culture and life of the downtown area,” Moore said.

Dan Heater, the director of UI Facilities and Management building and landscapes services, said the location would be closer to undergraduate work done on campus.

“It’s in a location that is closer to an area that will bring more people to the downtown area, where recitals and performances are held,” he said.

Heater said after the Voxman and Clapp buildings are razed, the UI plans to occupy the space with greenery. Heater said Facilities Management plans to partner with a group on campus to help plant trees and greenery.

“For the first time since the early 1970s, we will be able to see the glorious [view] of what’s facing the river as we walk across the IMU bridge,” said John Scott, director of the UI School of Art and Art History. 

Scott said the high profile architecture of the art and music buildings will be a great representation of the UI and also extend past Iowa City. With Hancher’s location in sight of the Dubuque Street entrance to Iowa City, Scott said, it will visually be an important part of both programs.

Scott also said with the new music building being relocated to downtown, it will be a huge benefit to all art units by allowing art students to engage with the local Iowa City community.

Since the flood of 2008, a majority of art and music classes have been separated throughout various UI facilities, making it hard for students and faculty. Scott said the 2008 disaster is a distant memory for most, but for the entire arts program, the disaster has continued taking a toll.

“When floods happen, they are on the headlines for a few days or weeks and tend to be forgotten, but not by the faculty, staff, and students who have been affected,” Scott said. “Thanks to the vigorous and heroic efforts of the university, Board of Regents, and state, the flood disaster has ultimately provided some great opportunities as well.”

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