Visual Arts Building, University of Iowa

15. November 2016

Visual Arts Building, University of Iowa

2016
Iowa City, Iowa

Client
University of Iowa

Architect
Steven Holl Architects
New York, NY

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

Associate Architects
BNIM Architects

Structural 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.

Building Area
126,000 sf

Competition
First Prize

Photos
Iwan Baan, Eric Dean

Drawings
Steven Holl Architects

Not many architects are given the opportunity to design two buildings whose close proximity can create a dialogue over time. Steven Holl Architects had the chance with the recent Visual Arts Building at the University of Iowa, just steps away from its decade-old Arts Building West. Translucent channel glass is found in both buildings, but the earlier project's Cor-ten steel has been eschewed in favor of a perforated skin that will patina over time. The architects sent us some text and images about the recently completed building.

The new Visual Arts facility for the University of Iowa's School of Art and Art History provides 126,000 sf of loft- like space for all visual arts media, from ancient metalsmithing techniques to the most advanced virtual reality technologies, including Ceramics, 3D Design, Metal Arts & Jewelry, Sculpture, Printmaking, Painting & Drawing, Graphic Design, Intermedia, Video Art, and Photography. Also housed are galleries, faculty offices, an outdoor rooftop studio, and teaching spaces for Art History.

The 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 forms an Arts Quad with Art Building West, which was designed by Steven Holl Architects and has drawn students from all over campus to its social spaces and library since opening in 2006. Together they form a visual arts campus for theorizing, teaching and making art.

While the 2006 Arts Building West is horizontally porous and of planar composition, the new building is vertically porous and volumetrically composed. The aim of maximum interaction between all departments of the school takes shape in social circulation spaces.

Interconnection: Horizontal Programs, Vertical Porosity
In a school of the arts today, interconnection and crossover, made increasingly possible through digital techniques, are of fundamental importance. Interdisciplinary collaboration between the School’s various art departments is facilitated in the vertical carving out of large open floor plates. Students can see activities ongoing across these openings and be encouraged to interact and meet. Further interconnection is facilitated by glass partitions along the studio walls adjacent to internal circulation.

Multiple Centers of Light
Natural light and ventilation reach into the core of the building via “centers of light." The seven vertical cutouts are characterized by a language of shifted layers, where one floor plate slides past another. This geometry creates multiple balconies, providing outdoor meeting spaces and informal exterior working space, further encouraging interaction between the building’s four levels.

Stairs as Vertical Social Condensers: Corridors as Horizontal Meeting Spaces
Stairs are shaped to enable informal meeting, interaction and discussion. Some stairs stop at generous landings with tables and chairs, others open onto lounge spaces with sofas, for informal collaborative work.

Campus Space Definition/Porosity
The original grid of the campus breaks up at the Iowa 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."

Material Resonance, Ecological Innovation
Natural ventilation is achieved via operable windows and skylights. 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 is perforated for sun shade on the southwest and southeast.

Visual Arts Building, University of Iowa

2016
Iowa City, Iowa

Client
University of Iowa

Architect
Steven Holl Architects
New York, NY

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

Associate Architects
BNIM Architects

Structural 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.

Building Area
126,000 sf

Competition
First Prize

Photos
Iwan Baan, Eric Dean

Drawings
Steven Holl Architects

Related articles

Featured Project

SPF:a

Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Other articles in this category