University of Iowa Thinking Big for Rebuilding Efforts, Plans for Mecca of Modernism

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Never mind that they’re still struggling through the now years-old battle with the Federal Emergency Management Agency over where, how, and if they’re able to build or rebuild a new Museum of Art structure, and don’t get too bogged down by the news of rapidly rising cost estimates, because the University of Iowa is moving full steam ahead in their attempt to massively reconfigure and renovate their campus following the disastrous floods of 2008 that damaged many of its buildings. One structure in particular, the Hancher Auditorium, is the subject of a recent report filed by the university, wherein they describe to FEMA what they’d like done with Hancher’s replacement. Seemingly seeing this as an opportunity to bring something more modern to the campus, the school has sited buildings like Daniel Libeskind‘s pointy Denver Art Museum and Santiago Calatrava‘s swoopy Atlanta Symphony Center (yes, “pointy” and “swoopy” are technical terms used throughout the industry). As we personally had previously attended many performances in the pre-flood, old Hancher, and definitely appreciated Max Abramovitz‘s classically modern 1972 building, we’re excited by the prospects of something a little more up to date. And they certainly have the right talent for it, considering they’ve commissioned Pelli Clarke Pelli for the job. Here are a few more of their reference points:

UI officials have visited several facilities for research and guidance on the Hancher project, including the Overture Center for the Arts in downtown Madison, Wis.; several large and small facilities in Minneapolis, including the Guthrie Theater, the Walker Center and the Ford Center; the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Mesa, Calif.; and the Disney Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles designed by Frank Gehry, who designed UI’s Iowa Advanced Technology Laboratories.