Regents approve designs, budgets for Hancher, art and music buildings

Board to vote today on designs for flood-replacement buildings

Hancher Auditorium, ruined by flooding in 2008. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)
Hancher Auditorium, ruined by flooding in 2008. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY -- State regents today unanimously approved the schematic designs and budgets for three major flood replacement buildings at the University of Iowa.

Regents had toured the sites for the three new buildings earlier Wednesday. Replacements of the flood-damaged buildings are expected to cost: $175.6 million for Hancher Auditorium; $152 million for the School of Music; and $77.3 million for the Studio Arts building.

"We're very pleased with the progress being made for the rebuilding of the arts campus," regents President Craig Lang.

Doug True, UI senior vice president for finance, said there will be "tangible progress" at the construction sites this calendar year.

During the tour, Hancher Executive Director Chuck Swanson said in the nearly four years since the flood, it's been a challenge finding other venues for performances and events and keeping momentum with donors.

"At this point what's keeping everybody going is the fact that we have that new building on the horizon," Swanson said.

The three flood-replacement buildings will be funded with a combination of flood insurance proceeds, funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, academic building revenue bond proceeds and university gifts and earnings.

UI President Sally Mason said officials continue to await word of the UI's federal appeal on the Museum of Art. FEMA denied funding for a replacement building at a new site for the museum, but UI officials say they can't return the art to that building on the river for insurance purposes.

Mason said UI leaders will "wait for as long as it takes" regarding the university appeal to the federal government. She added that it's "absolutely realistic" to build a new museum without federal dollars, but that it would require significant fundraising.

Officials in art and art history and in music, programs displaced by the flood, say they have worked hard to keep student interest, enrollment and retention high.

Hancher Auditorium will have total capacity of 1,800 seats, with two balconies. The facility will also house theater operations and administrative staff offices. Functions formerly housed in the Voxman Music Building, including the scene shop, costume shop and performing arts production unit offices, are also included in the project. The new Hancher will be built in a green space to the east and south of the Levitt Center and to the north of the existing Hancher Voxman Clapp Complex. The project will be bid in multiple bid packages with the first package scheduled to start this summer. All construction is scheduled to be completed in December of 2015.

The new School of Music Building, at the southwest corner of Burlington and Clinton streets in downtown Iowa City, will house a 700-seat concert hall, a 200-seat recital hall, an organ performance hall, a music library, rehearsal and practice rooms, classrooms, and faculty studio and administrative offices. The project will be bid in multiple bid packages with the first package anticipated in September 2013, with construction complete in August 2016.

For the Art Building replacement, construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2013, with completion during the summer of 2016. It will house all the programs previously housed within the Art Building complex that was damaged by the 2008 flood, as well as the School of Art and Art History graduate painting program currently located at 109 River St. The building will be constructed on university land directly adjacent to and northwest of Art Building West, which also houses School of Art and Art History programs.

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