Update: Steven Holl Architects has announced the topping out of the University of Iowa's Visual Arts Building, a commission they won in a competition in 2010. When complete, the new building will work with their Art Building West, which they completed on the University of Iowa campus in 2006, to provide a dedicated arts space for students. Read on after the break for our coverage of the design reveal from 2013, and for construction photos and up to date renders of the project.
More than three years ago we reported that Steven Holl Architects and BNIM Architects won the commission to design a new art studio facility for the University of Iowa (UI) Arts campus. Today the building has officially broken ground and entered the construction phase. The new Visual Arts Building will replace the original arts building from 1936, which was heavily damaged during flooding in 2008. It will be directly adjacent to and northwest of Art Building West, an earlier, award-winning Steven Holl design.
To create balance between the existing Arts Building West, which is horizontally porous and of planar composition, the new Visual Arts Building was specifically designed to be vertically porous and volumetrically composed. Some key points of the design follow.
From the architect:
1. Interconnection: Horizontal Programs, Vertical Porosity
In a school of the arts today, interconnection and crossover are of fundamental importance. Today digital techniques open up increased interconnection between all the arts. Interconnection between all of the departments is facilitated in the vertical carving out of large open floor plates. Students can see activities ongoing across these openings and be encouraged to interact and meet. Further interconnection is facilitated by glass partitions along the studio walls adjacent to internal circulation.
2. Multiple Centers of Light
Natural light and natural ventilation are inserted into the deep floor plates via the "multiple centers of light." Seven vertical cutouts encourage interaction between all four levels. These spaces of glass are characterized by a language of shifted layers where one floor plate slides past another. This geometry creates multiple balconies, providing outdoor meeting spaces and informal exterior working space.
3. Stairs as Vertical Social Condensers: Corridors as Horizontal Meeting Spaces
Stairs are shaped to encourage meeting, interaction and discussion. Some stairs stop at generous landings with tables and chairs, others open onto lounge spaces with sofas.
4. Campus Space Definition/Porosity
The original grid of the campus breaks up at the river, becoming organic as it hits the limestone bluff. The Arts West building reflects this irregular geometry in fuzzy edges. The new building picks up the campus grid again in its simple plan, defining the new campus space of the "arts meadow."
5. Material Resonance, Ecological Innovation
Natural ventilation is achieved via operable windows. A punched concrete frame structure provides thermal mass at the exterior while "bubble" slabs provide radiant cooling and heating. A Rheinzink skin in weathering blue-green is perforated for sun shade on the southwest and southeast.
Architects in ChargeSteven Holl, Chris McVoy, Rychiee Espinosa
Design TeamGarrick Ambrose, Bell Ying Yi Cai, Christiane Deptolla, JongSeo Lee, Johanna Muszbek, Garrett Ricciardi, Filipe Taboada, Jeanne Wellinger, Human Tieliu Wu, Christina Yessios
Associate ArchitectsBNIM Architects
Structural EngineerBuro Happold, Structural Engineering Associates
Lighting ConsultantL'Observatoire International
Mechanical EngineerDesign Engineers
Curtain Wall ConsultantWJ Higgins & Co.
Audio/Visual ConsultantThe Sextant Group, Inc.