University of Iowa building new art studio in Coralville

Plans also proceed for University of Iowa buying North Liberty land

Cars travel along Forevergreen Road where a sign notes a University of Iowa Health Care building is planned for the sout
Cars travel along Forevergreen Road where a sign notes a University of Iowa Health Care building is planned for the southwest corner. A Board of Regents committee on Wednesday recommended giving the UI permission to buy 22 acres adjacent to the 38 acres it now owns there. Plans for the land have not been announced. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR FALLS — The University of Iowa is moving forward with plans to build a new stand-alone 7,300-square-foot art studio on its Oakdale campus in Coralville, replacing aging studios scattered in buildings on the main UI and Oakdale campuses.

A Board of Regents committee, meeting Wednesday in Cedar Falls, recommended for approval the $2.5 million project for the UI School of Art and Art History — to be funded with College of Liberal Arts and Sciences gifts and earnings and temporary investment income, according to regent documents.

“This project would provide an appropriately sized art studio and support spaces in one building to meet program needs,” according to the documents.

It would house 14 art studios, display space, a paint spray room, a kiln, restrooms and storage. Art and art history faculty currently are housed in a nearly 70-year-old Oakdale studio building and in other spaces across campus.

Built in 1950, Oakdale Studio A last year was approved for demolition due to substantial and mounting deferred maintenance and its need for significant energy conservation improvements, according to board documents.

When regents in September 2018 first approved the university’s request to raze the aged 24,843-square-foot Oakdale studio, UI officials said its studios would be moved back to the main campus “in close proximity to the university’s new Visual Arts Building,” at 107 River St., west of the Iowa River.

Removal of the building, according to the 2018 regent request, agreed “with the university’s master plan to decrease square footage supported by general education funds.”

Demolition was projected to cost $545,000, according to UI bid documents.


Construction of a new art studio in Coralville — originally pitched at 10,992 square feet — is expected to cost $1.9 million, plus $580,000 in planning and design, furniture and equipment, and contingency.

In that regents have approved using an abbreviated design-build method for its construction, the university has chosen Rohrbach Associates for the project.

Construction is scheduled to begin this winter and finish in the fall of 2020, according to Rod Lehnertz, UI senior vice president of finance and operations.

North Liberty land purchase

A regent facilities committee on Wednesday also gave the UI permission to proceed with a $2.2 million purchase of 22 undeveloped acres adjacent to 38 acres the university has owned for nearly a decade.

That land long has hosted a large sign promoting the parcel as a future home for UI Health Care — although administrators have declined to share details of what it has planned there.

During Wednesday’s regents meeting in Cedar Falls, UI business manager David Kieft boasted the UI’s proposed purchase price for the 22 acres at $2.31 per square foot — well below the $7.08 per square foot it paid for the other 38 acres and the $10 a square foot other medical providers have paid for nearby land.

“This price will allow the site to be better planned and developed into the future,” Kieft said, noting expectations the university will come back next year with “with more detailed plans” of how it wants to use that site.

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