Text description provided by the architects. Responding to a major expansion of the University of Iowa’s primary research hospital, this 18,350 sqf facility houses a bus interchange, offices for Parking and Transportation, and a 780-foot enclosed walkway system. The Transit Center is an integral cog in the University's free mass-transit system, with roughly 4,000 people passing through each day. Two guiding parameters inform the transit building’s composition. The first is the stacking of program elements that the owner initially planned to be sited separately.
The second is the navigation of densely knotted web of underground utilities permeating the site. The building’s first floor accommodates the bus interchange. Paired escalators and a grand stair lead to offices and the skywalk above. Glazing at the skywalk, transit hub, and connecting elevator maximizes views and visibility. Rain screen cladding and a curtain wall with operable exterior sunshades clad the remainder of the building. At grade level, stained ipe responds to the surrounding buildings’ brown brick. Above, fiber cement panels extend beyond the offices to cradle the skywalk’s angled connection.
The fiber cement system was selected for its durability, the economy of its fabrication and installation, and the variegated color tones that visually mitigate the overhang’s dramatic scale. Six 3’ diameter caissons support the skywalk’s length, carefully sited to avoid the nearly ubiquitous underground utilities. Large roof beams span between the caissons’ forked piers. Stainless steel rods at 5’ on center suspend the thin floor assembly, while insulated structural glass sidewalls supported by clamp plates complete the shell.