The University of IowaAnnual Report 2008-09


Living with the river remains a priority

Rod Lehnertz, Director of design and construction, Facilities Management

We have well-established locations along the river; what we’re going to do is protect those appropriately, both from an operations perspective, should the situation arise, and from a permanent building-protection and campus-protection perspective.

That will keep those buildings there. And when we build new buildings, we are looking aggressively at how we protect them forever from a flood. We will not be placing building delicately along the edge of the Iowa River anymore. We’ll look to better and more attractive landscaping features along the river, which is an objective of ours, to bring people to the river, to make it a place where people want to visit, want to walk, be entertained, spend time with family and friends, those kinds of things. We’re working with Iowa City and the University of Iowa community to advance those—but not buildings on the river so much as making it an enjoyable environment.

We have always on this campus celebrated the river, and the intent of the master plan was to celebrate it to a higher degree. We even used careful language at the onset, the days after the flood, that it’s all about living with the river, not protecting ourselves against the river—though that is a reality of being in a place that could flood. It is very important to me and to those who are involved in planning on this campus that what we do coming out of this flood helps us to further engage the river, and actually make a better and more attractive environment than we had pre-flood.

The things a river can do to a campus that isn’t protected are bad and are expensive, and so we need to minimize those risks. We learned a great deal in 1993 and we learned so much more in 2008.

We still look at the river as something that sets our campus and our community apart from many others who have campuses of our size, and we intend to take advantage of it—not be afraid of it or stay away from it.