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Hancher construction shows recovery

BY BILL COONEY | MAY 12, 2015 5:00 AM

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The completion of the new Hancher Auditorium and other major campus construction projects in 2016 will mark the University of Iowa’s physical recovery from the devastating flood of 2008.

Other flood-related construction includes the new studio-arts building, the new music building, the IMU ground floor, and many others, said Rod Lehnertz, the UI interim senior vice president for Finance and Operations.

“To have all of these projects completed within a year of one another, it really shows you how far this school has come since 2008,” he said. “Campus has endured more construction in these years following the flood then at any other time in its history.”

Crews began construction on the $176 million new Hancher in June 2013.

So far the construction is on time and on budget, said Wendy Moorehead, the strategic-communications director for UI Facilities Management.

“From what I understand, construction is roughly 70 percent complete,” Moorehead said. “The installation of the curtain wall is ongoing right now, roofing will begin this summer, and the exterior scaffolding will be removed in June.”

Construction on Hancher will be completed in the spring 2016, but the first performance will occur in the fall.

Though construction has not yet been completed, acts and performances for the 2016 opening season are already being booked, said Rob Cline, the director of marketing and communications for Hancher.

“Hancher is going to be a wonderful place on campus where people can gather to celebrate the arts,” he said. “It’s really an exciting and vibrant time on campus, and we want to be sure that we’re ready to go opening day.”

The auditorium will be of service to students of the arts as well.

“I think it’s going to be great to have it back, not just for theater but for all performing arts on campus,” said UI theater major Matt Smith. “A facility like Hancher is an amazing thing to have, not just for students, but for Iowa City as well.”

Smith said he thinks the new Hancher will be attractive to students thinking about coming to the UI.

“For someone planning to study performing arts here, I think it’s a huge draw,” Smith said. “I think that it’s going to be a place where not just students, but the entire Iowa City community can come together and enjoy the arts.”

Though in the same area as the old auditorium, it is far enough away from the river to protect it from future flooding, Lehnertz said.

The new Hancher will occupy a prominent place overlooking the Iowa River, and Lehnertz said that can change the landscape for someone first coming in to Iowa City.

“It’s hard to describe what’s missing to someone if they haven’t experienced it,” he said. “We want Hancher to serve as a gateway feature that people will admire on their way to campus as they enter town.”


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