IOWA CITY.- The University of Iowa announced today, Tuesday, Nov. 4, that it will move ahead with repairing and restoring Art Building West, one of two buildings that were home to UI's School of Art and Art History, and also with returning the south end of the former Museum of Art to pre-flood conditions as a temporary quarters for some of its displaced arts programs.
The UI confirmed that it hopes to fully re-occupy Art Building West, the award-winning structure designed by internationally acclaimed architect Steven Holl, by December 2009. Like many buildings on the arts campus, Art Building West -- opened and dedicated only two years ago -- sustained damage in the June flooding of the UI campus.
According to Gregg Oden, co-chairperson of the UI Mitigation Task Force, the decision to fully restore Art Building West was based on careful evaluation of the importance of meeting critical needs of the art and art history programs weighed against the impact of damage incurred by the flood, as well as by the risk of exposure to future flooding prior to completion of full mitigation efforts on the arts campus.
"Following careful consideration of all these variables, the recommendation was made to President (Sally) Mason that we re-occupy this important arts building as soon as possible, and she has approved our recommendation," Oden said.
Dorothy Johnson, director of the UI School of Art and Art History in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said she welcomed the decision.
"This is extraordinarily good news for us," she said. "It was heartbreaking for us to lose our wonderful, new building to the flood last summer, and it has been very disruptive to our faculty, staff and students to be in temporary accommodations. However, we look forward with great enthusiasm to fully re-occupying this building by late next fall."
Oden said that when faculty and students go back into the building a year from now they will need to understand that there may be disruptions due to construction that may be called for in order to protect the building from any future threat of flooding. The University's Flood Mitigation Task Force, UI Facilities Management, and outside flood mitigation and campus planning consultants will be conducting ongoing evaluation of flood protection measures both before and after re-occupation, as well as in the long term, he added.
Also, work will commence immediately on restoring the south end of the former Museum of Art building for use as temporary quarters for displaced academic programs in the arts.
"The Museum of Art building can afford us critically needed space in the interim, so we will be bringing it up as temporary space for use by some of our arts programs," Oden said.
The UI Mitigation Task Force, co-chaired by UI faculty members Oden, a professor of psychology and computer science, and Larry Weber, an engineering professor and director of IIHR - Hydroscience and Engineering, is a 14-member campus advisory group charged with guiding campus flood recovery and mitigation efforts in the wake of the summer 2008 flooding of the UI campus, which left more than 20 buildings damaged and numerous faculty, staff and students temporarily displaced.
Before its evacuation during the flood, Art Building West housed classrooms, studios, the Art Library, gallery space and both faculty and administrative offices. The building's total space of 69,000 square feet included 13,000 square feet of library space, 7,800 square feet of studio space, 2,405 square feet of classrooms and a 2,600-square-foot auditorium.