The new Visual Arts facility for the University of Iowa’s School of Art and Art History provides 126,000 sf of loftlike space for the departments of ceramics, sculpture, metals, photography, print making and 3D multimedia. It will also include graduate student studios, faculty and staff studios and offices, and gallery space.
The new Visual Arts Building replaces an original arts building from 1936, which was heavily damaged during a flood of the University of Iowa campus in June 2008. The new building will be located directly adjacent to and northwest of Art Building West, which was designed by Steven Holl Architects and has received numerous awards since its opening in 2006. While the 2006 Arts Building West is horizontally porous and of planar composition, the new building will be vertically porous and volumetrically composed. The aim of maximum interaction between all departments of the school takes shape in social circulation spaces.
In a school of the arts today, interconnection and crossover are of fundamental importance. Today digital techniques open up increased interconnection between all the arts. Interconnection between all of the departments is facilitated in the vertical carving out of large open floor plates. Students can see activities ongoing across these openings and be encourages to interact and meet. Further interconnection is facilitated by glass partitions along the studio walls adjacent to internal circulation.
Natural light and natural ventilation are inserted into the deep floor plates via the “multiple centers of light.” Seven vertical cutouts encourage interaction between all four levels. These spaces of glass are characterized by a language of shifted layers where one floor plate slides past another. This geometry created multiple balconies, providing outdoor meeting spaces and informal exterior working space.
Stairs are shaped to encourage meeting, interaction and discussion. Some stairs stop at generous landings with tables and chairs, others open onto lounge spaces with sofas.
The original grid of the campus breaks up at the river, becoming organic as it hits the limestone bluff. The Arts West building reflects this irregular geometry in fuzzy edges. The new building picks up the campus grid again in its simple plan, defining the new campus space of the “arts meadow.”
Natural ventilation is achieved via operable windows. A punched concrete frame structure provides thermal mass at the exterior while “bubble” slabs provide radiant cooling and heating. A Rheinzink skin in weathering blue-green at the exterior while “bubble” slabs provide radiant cooling and heating. A Rheinzink skin in weathering blue-green is perforated for sun shade on the southwest and southeast.Location: Iowa City, USA Architects: Steven Holl Architects Design architects: Steven Holl, Chris McVoy
Project architect: Rychiee Espinosa
Project team: Garrick Ambrose, Bell Ying Yi Cai, Christiane Deptolla, JongSeo Lee, Johanna Muszbek, Garrett Ricciardi, Filipe Taboada,
Jeanne Wellinger, Human Tieliu Wu, Christina Yessios
Program: art and art history building, including facilities for ceramics, sculpture, metals, photography, print making, and 3D multimedia;
graduate student studios; faculty and staff offices; and gallery space Project type: competition (first prize)
Project name: Visual Arts Building, University of Iowa
Date: 2010 Associate architects: BNIM Architects
Stuctural engineer: Buro Happold, Structural Engineering Associates
Lighting consultant: L’Observatoire International
Sustainability engineer: Transsolar
Mechanical engineer: Design Engineers
Curtain wall consultant: WJ Higgins & Co.
Civil engineer: Shive-Hattery
Audio/visual consultant: The Sextant Group Inc.