Open Space & Green Space
An important element of any physical environment is open space. A simple definition of open space can be stated as any
area not occupied by structures. Open space by this definition includes lawns, wooded areas, small niches between
buildings, sidewalks, pedestrian malls, athletic fields, hard surface court game areas, and even parking lots. This
inclusive definition separates Open Space from Green Space. Green space is more traditionally thought of as lawns, wooded
areas, "natural areas," and other vegetation related spaces. Also included are pedestrian-oriented areas including
courtyards, pedestrian malls, and other pedestrian corridors.
It is important to identify those spaces available to the general campus population that provide links between structures
or areas, provide settings for other elements, create buffers or oasis between or within elements of the urban fabric, or
otherwise provide green alternatives to buildings. It also is important to identify appropriate amounts of green space,
in appropriate locations, to be preserved and protected to ensure the long-range needs of the campus are met and ensure
that these spaces are not sacrificed to short-range considerations or other competing needs. This includes identifying
potential green spaces within future building sites that currently are parking lots. Open spaces are not simply future
building sites. They are integral components of a campus and have inherent attributes that contribute to the quality and
fabric of the University and should be treasured and treated with the same respect as any structure.
The Pentacrest is the most notable green space on campus. In addition to its historic importance, it serves as the
intellectual, spiritual, and physical center of the campus. The entrance to the Pentacrest at the Iowa Avenue/Clinton
Avenue intersection is a traditional pedestrian and visual entrance to campus. The five buildings, walks, steps, plazas,
lawn, slopes, and vegetation all are integral parts of the Pentacrest.
The campus also has several "natural" features, the most important being the Iowa River. The river physically divides as
well as unifies the East and West Campus areas. It is the dividing line between the urban, grid oriented East Campus and
the loop road oriented West Campus. It is the unifying common thread through the campus visible from multiple campus sites
and buildings, accessible from pedestrian walks along its banks into the campus, and linked to away-from-the-river campus
areas through ravines and visual corridors. It is a natural organizing amenity and "backbone" for the campus green space
system. Potential pedestrian-oriented development, such as the River Terrace at the Iowa Memorial Union and the Iowa River
Garden near the Music Building, will strengthen connections between the river and other campus facilities.
Other natural areas are river related as well. They include the exposed limestone and tree covered bluffs below the
President's Residence along the east bank and below the International Center, Nursing Building, and Boyd Law Building on
the west bank. The area below the International Center also includes a small spring-fed pond at the Hutchinson Quarry.
Two wooded ravines extend west from the river. The northern ravine (Quad Ravine) is a pedestrian connection from the
Quadrangle Residence area to the Iowa Avenue bridge and pedestrian overpass. The southern ravine below Boyd Law building
is a wooded resource to be protected in the short-term and potentially developed as a pedestrian connection in the
long-term. A smaller green area is the triangular space between Riverside Drive and the river and between Iowa Avenue and
the CRANDIC railroad tracks.
The 20 acre wooded hilltop west of Carver-Hawkeye and east of the Hawkins Drive campus entrance contains large mature Oaks
and Hickories. Prairie remnants have been identified near the south edge of the wooded hilltop. The two wooded ravines
and the hilltop are the major wooded environments remaining on the West Campus. The hilltop, like the ravines, and tree
covered limestone cliffs merit preservation and protection as remnant wooded sites on the West Campus.
South of the Finkbine Commuter Parking Lot is another large wooded area that should be preserved. West of Hawkins Drive
and south of US Highway 6 are athletic fields and open areas. Within the open area near Hawkins Drive is a large spoil
area where excess soil from construction of Carver-Hawkeye was piled, smoothed and planted with hybrid honeylocusts, crabs,
and other non-native trees and shrubs. A degraded wetland area with cattails and woody vegetation is along the south edge
of the athletic fields and there is a pedestrian/bicycle trail adjoining the wetland area that connects Hawkeye Court
housing with the West Campus. A few prairie remnants have been identified south of the trail along the slope below the
railroad tracks (See Map 19). Another large undeveloped wooded area that should be
preserved is along Clear Creek northwest of Hawkeye Court Apartments.
Some green spaces are oriented to active recreation. Intercollegiate facilities such as Kinnick Field and the nearby
baseball field are open spaces but are enclosed by structures and inaccessible to the general campus population. Baseball
and soccer fields adjoining Highway 6 west of Hawkins Drive are also active recreation oriented but are open to view.
Finkbine Golf Course is south of the Iowa Interstate Railroad.
On the East Campus, there are few open green areas beyond the boundaries of the Pentacrest. Perhaps the most important
remaining green space on campus is Hubbard Park south of the Iowa Memorial Union. This is the only relatively flat open
play area east of the Iowa River and it traditionally has been used for everything from formal-organized events to informal
and impromptu activities. While at times Hubbard Park has been coveted as a potential building site, most have seen the
importance of protecting and preserving this rare east-of-the-river open space for events and activities and for
maintaining historic open space connections between the Pentacrest and the Iowa River.
Other green spaces on the East and West Campus areas include open lawns with scattered trees among and between buildings.
While these are not natural areas like the wooded hilltop, they do provided outdoor green spaces that help define the
campus environment. Others, like the area northeast of Hancher and the area east of Myrtle Avenue parking are currently
open spaces but have been identified as potential building sites.
Pedestrian walks and malls are also part of the University campus open space system. Walks that typically are wider than
traditional sidewalks, usually not aligned along streets, and may have pedestrian related site amenities such as benches,
trash receptacles, and pedestrian scale lighting are important components of a pedestrian-oriented open space system.
These walks combine with pedestrian malls such as the Cleary Walkway form the basis for a Pedestrian-oriented Campus.
The Far West Campus is primarily open space at this time with scattered pockets of development. That includes open areas
between Hawkeye Court and Hawkeye Drive Apartments, and the flood plain area along Clear Creek. However, a new athletic
complex as identified in the Long Range Athletic Facilities Master Plan is currently in the preliminary design phase.
Oakdale too is primarily open space at present.
The University of Iowa campus has almost 12,000 parking spaces according to information from the Parking and
Transportation Department. The Department provides access to the campus through parking facilities, and through "an
intra-campus transit operation (CAMBUS), vanpool program, carpool matching program, and support of a growing community of
bicyclists." A recent Lot/Ramp Meter, and Service Vehicle Zones inventory from the Department of Parking and
Transportation documents the following numbers: (See the Lot/Ramp Space Inventory, Meter Inventory, and Service Vehicle
Zones for East & West Campus in the Appendix for details)