Hancher, Voxman moving along

BY KRISTEN BARON | JUNE 16, 2014 5:00 AM

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A masterpiece isn’t made in a day.

But University of Iowa students, along with Iowa City residents, can look forward to seeing the complete shape of the new University of Iowa Hancher and Voxman Music Building within the next six to nine months.

Construction on both Hancher and Voxman is on track, and UI officials expect them to open in the fall of 2016. Both the old facilities were heavily damaged in the 2008 flood, which damaged roughly one-sixth of the campus.

“We’re at important stages where the general public can see the progress,” said Rod Lehnertz, the director of planning, design, and construction for UI Facilities Management.

When the buildings are finally enclosed and construction moves to the interior, weather should no longer be an issue, he said.

Although officials are excited about the progress, some are still aware of possible delays.

Lehnertz said any foreseeable issues that could cause setbacks would happen during the finish and carpentry stage.

Workers’ schedules were adjusted and work hours were extended up to 24 hours per day in order to keep everything on track despite the cold winter that presented some delays, as well as historic finds discovered last fall.

Construction crews exposed foundation to a cabin that may date back to the 1830s. Along with the cabin foundation, six to seven cisterns — or a hole in the ground that collects rainwater — were found.

Hancher Executive Director Chuck Swanson said faculty and staff should have access to the completed buildings in during the spring of 2016. At that time, the different departments will be allowed to test the acoustics, work with the lighting and technical elements, and get a “general feel” for the new building.

“We want to be ready in the most professional way,” Swanson said.

The performance hall in the new Hancher will seat 1,800 people as opposed to the old facility’s 2,500. The stage and backstage areas will be larger, and the audience will be closer to the stage.

Swanson said the change in layout will provide an experience that is supposed to be “very intimate” and “one of the finest.”

“Everyone is thrilled to see the construction,” said David Gier, the director of the School of Music. “It’s a rebirth of the arts on campus.”

UI music students and faculty have had to meet in seven different locations during the past academic year. The new Voxman will be 90,000 square feet, the same size as the previous facility.

However, the building will provide additional open areas for a more welcoming environment, Gier said.

And the new Hancher will be larger than the previous building, Swanson said.

“We have had to be resilient,” Gier said. “We’re looking forward to coming together under one roof. Coming together is important for the educational process.”

Both the new Hancher and the new Voxman will be equipped with the latest technology and will be more up to date overall.

“It’s been a journey, but we still have a lot of work to do,” Swanson said.

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