The University of Iowa held a ceremonial ribbon cutting on Monday, Aug. 25, to celebrate the reopening of five critical campus buildings—Main Library, which opened weeks ago; and Becker Communications Studies Building, Adler Journalism Building, English-Philosophy Building, and Mayflower Residence Hall, which came online within the past week. These buildings were among the 20 closed due to summer flooding.
But this ceremony does not indicate that it's business as usual on the UI campus. In the words of Don Guckert, associate vice president and director of Facilities Management, “Most of the bigger challenges lie ahead.”
For instance, the University is relying on temporary boilers to take the place of the UI Power Plant. Work continues to bring the Iowa Memorial Union back online. And much of the arts campus is facing an entire year of recovery efforts. Add to this the long-term mitigation decisions that must be made to help prevent this sort of damage from recurring, and one sees a long road indeed—but one that seems navigable, if this summer’s recovery work is any indication of the dedication many people have for the UI campus.
Kayt Conrad, director of operations for the Division of Performing Arts, says it was clear almost immediately that the scope of this summer's flooding on the arts campus—and the recovery work afterwards—would be far greater than in 1993.
“I thought, ‘we’re not going back in there,’” she says. “'We need to get started on the fall right now.’”
The four units that have been flooded out—the School of Art and Art History, School of Music, Department of Theatre Arts, and Hancher Auditorium—faced a huge challenge for the fall semester: finding locations for performances, classes, rehearsals, arts studios, and faculty offices.
The solutions they found reflect a remarkable combination of ingenuity, energy, and assistance from many people within the University and a wide variety of organizations and groups in the community.
In mere weeks, a former retail space along Highway 1 was transformed into the Studio Arts Building, which will house all of the arts studios and studio faculty offices except intermedia and photography. All the equipment that was not damaged in the summer flooding has been moved to this location. fyi photographer Tom Jorgensen captures the rapid transition.
Hancher Auditorum is more than just the building. There is also Hancher the arts-presenting organization, internationally renowned for its commissions, networking, and innovative educational programming. It was the arts-presenting Hancher that took the Joffrey Ballet "River to River" last summer, and presented the "Spot" artist residencies in Marshalltown, Perry, and Spencer the last several seasons.
That being said, Hancher has salvaged a healthy portion of its initially announced 2008–09 season. The events will be dispersed throughout the Iowa City/Coralville Area, which plays into the season's theme: "Can't Contain Us!"