New space for music
When classes opened in fall 2008, School of Music programs were scattered across 17 locations. Today, they occupy six primary sites, with a convenient center of gravity in downtown Iowa City.
As the fall semester began in August, music students benefited from a brand new, 21,500-square-foot space in University Capitol Centre, just south of Old Capitol and the Pentacrest. The facility includes classroom and recital space, offices, and 44 Wenger rooms, sound-controlled chambers for rehearsals.
The University will rebuild the school’s former home, Voxman Music Building, and adjacent Clapp Recital Hall and Hancher Auditorium. The University is evaluating potential sites north of the existing Hancher or near downtown, and expects to deliver its recommendation to the Iowa Board of Regents later this year.
Until then, these temporary facilities provide provisional yet welcome relief for programs that have learned to make do and look forward.
“Our students, especially, have had a great attitude,” says Kristin Thelander, the School of Music’s director of planning. “It’s clear to them that the University is doing all it can to address a major challenge, and that we’re headed to some really interesting places.”
Evolution for art
Ryan Ainsworth was skeptical about taking art classes in a former home improvement store. But he soon realized that Studio Arts—the repurposed retail space that opened in fall 2008—offers an evolving canvas for creativity and collaboration.
“It’s kind of like this art piece that’s continuing to build, continuing to grow,” says Ainsworth, originally from Northbridge, Mass., who graduated last May. “That’s exactly how it should be.”
Both the 1930s-era Art Building and the award-winning Art Building West (ABW) completed in 2006 remain closed following the flood, though the latter is slated to reopen next year. In August, the University announced plans to build a new art facility just north and west of ABW. In the meantime, Studio Arts provides a home for many School of Art and Art History programs.
In May, Ainsworth and others organized an open house that drew nearly 4,000 guests for exhibits, demonstrations, and performances.
“Our school is not a set of buildings,” says Dorothy Johnson, professor of art history. “It’s who we are, our history, our present, and our future. It’s our faculty and students, wherever we might be.”
Homecoming for theatre
As the Iowa River rose in 2008, students, faculty, and staff in the Department of Theatre Arts drew on lessons from the last major flood in 1993. They evacuated the Theatre Building in record time, moving everything they could out or up, rescuing thousands of costumes, props, equipment, and more.
Last January they returned home, celebrating with a barbeque and square dance followed by a full slate of spring productions, the annual Summer Rep festival, and more shows this fall.
“The building took a bit of a beating,” says Alan MacVey, professor and chair of the department. While the main floor and the theatres themselves stayed high and dry, the 9,000-square-foot basement once dedicated to production shops, storage, and offices remains gutted pending mitigation measures to protect against future floods.
Like his colleagues in music and visual arts, MacVey says he is heartened by the University’s commitment to the arts, demonstrated by constant, collaborative efforts to meet immediate needs and provide lasting support.
“Long-term, these programs are going to be great,” he says. “Better than ever.”
For additional information about flood-recovery efforts on campus, see www.uiowa.edu/floodrecovery.
by Lin Larson