Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investments

School of Art and Art History, University of Iowa, Iowa City, United States

Exemplary design categories: art and design facilities, cost efficiency, flexible learning settings

How the facility meets the needs of education and communities:
In the 1930s, the University of Iowa was one of the first schools to integrate art history and art practice in one department. This approach demanded an innovative design strategy for this new building, which integrate the two uses, as well as provides a welcoming space for all students and faculty to gather. While each activity area has its distinct space, they are woven together by circulation areas and views between spaces. Studios can be opened out in warm weather. Interior glass walls reveal work-in-progress in the studios. The building also needed to respond to both the urban grid of Iowa City and the natural landscape abutting the Iowa River. In addition, as a public project, the design met restrictive budget constraints. Inspired by Picasso’s 1912 work ""Guitar"", the neck of the guitar is referenced in a cantilevered wing that extends over a pond towards the school’s old building. Activity spaces are distributed around a central atrium with a dramatic suspended stair of folded steel plates. The University faculty, campus architects, and students were consulted during the design process. This building was one of several damaged in the devastating Iowa floods of June 2008. It was temporarily closed and is due to reopen in 2012 when reconstruction is complete.

Activity Areas: art library, studios, classrooms, exhibition gallery, a media theatre, painting and design studios, a metal shop and offices

Project costs: USD 16,100,000.00

Source: "Designing for Education: Compendium of Exemplary Educational Facilities 2011"

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Images (5)

Drawings (4)

floor plan (Registration required)
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Credit: SHA
floor plan (Registration required)
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Credit: SHA
cross section (Registration required)
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Credit: SHA
ground floor & site plan (Registration required)
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Credit: SHA