IMU ground floor sees restoration and flood mitigation


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The IMU ground floor has been out of service since the 2008 flood, and with its reopening in the spring of 2015, it will be everything it once was while also integrating new floodwalls and a plaza area.

“I was a student here, and this was the place to hang out because it is a centralized location with food, and the bookstore, study space, and to visit family who stay at the [Iowa House Hotel],” said Cory Lockwood, the IMU associate director of events and facilities operations.

Before the flood, the IMU ground floor housed many things that students can now find across campus.

In the spring, students can expect to enter the ground floor from the south entrance, the Hubbard Park entrance, and they will find the coffee shop on the left, Hills Bank on the right, similar to the upstairs layout, Lockwood said.

It will also feature the Hawkeye Room, a lounge area that will serve as an area for people to gather, much like they do in Hubbard Commons, as well as a performance venue.

The Union Market Food Court will feature food options such as salad, pizza, and sandwiches. It will also house an Asian station and grill.

Though the food court will have many food options, it will not be offered immediately with meal-plan options.

“We’ll be keeping meal-swipe options at the River Room Cafe,” the UI dining & event services manager Bob James said. “We’re not starting [meal swipes at Union Market] because we’re not sure how busy it will be.”

James said students will still be able to use payment methods such as Hawk Dollars, UI charge, and debit or credit cards.

The Iowa Hawk Shop and Bookstore will be returned to its former glory with nearly three times the square footage of its current temporary location in the Old Capitol Town Center, Lockwood said.

The IMU Learning Commons will house around 20 ITC computer stations and numerous study tables.

The ground floor will also feature ADA compliant bathrooms near the north and south entrances, a convenience store, and a small TV lounge and study area.

Along with the restoration, FEMA is funding the addition of 500-year floodwalls, which will allow the IMU to remain protected and open during floods.

Miron Construction was contracted for the project, and according to its website, there will be a 2,200 square-foot storage room under the west floodwall deck that will hold removable floodwall components.

Construction crews have been doing everything they can to utilize existing materials that were not damaged by the flood, said UI Facilities Manager senior construction manager Kirsta Scranton.

Materials that were not salvageable will be replaced with identical fixtures to present a cohesive look.

The recovery project will recover 83,000 square feet lost to the flood. All of the features of the ground floor will be ADA compliant, and everything else will be restored to what it was like before.

“The only downside is that we’re losing some windows [with the floodwalls,]” he said.

Though many students are unsure what to expect from the ground floor, one said she is excited.

“I think it would be really convenient especially for new students because this is where everything would be,” UI sophomore Maddy Schwerdtfeger said. “I might come here more often especially at the beginning of the semester with the bookstore here.”

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