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SCHOOL OF ART & ART HISTORY, UNIVERSITY OF IOWA
Iowa City, IA, United States, 1999-2006

PROGRAM: Art and art history building, including facilities for sculpture, painting, printmaking, graduate studios, administrative offices, gallery, and library
CLIENT: University of Iowa
SIZE: 70,000 sf
CONSTRUCTION COST: $16,100,000
STATUS: completed

The new School of Art and Art History is a hybrid instrument of open edges and open center; instead of an object, the building is a "formless" instrument. Implied rather than actual volumes are outlined in the disposition of spaces. Flat or curved planes are slotted together or assembled with hinged sections. Flexible spaces open out from studios in warm weather. The main horizontal passages are meeting places with interior glass walls that reveal work-in-progress. The interplay of light is controlled through shading created by the overlapping planar exterior. Exposed tension rods of the partial bridge section contribute to the linear and planar architecture. Interior floors are framed in exposed steel and concrete planks, with integrated air and services distribution in the core voids. The resulting architecture is a hybrid vision of the future, combining bridge and loft spaces, theory with practice and human requirements with scientific principles.
'Holl's practice is unremittingly expansive in its ambition and its cultural specificity.'
-Cathy Lang Ho, Blueprint [UK]
'It is not surprising that the School of Art & Art History at the University of Iowa should have commissioned the architect Steven Holl to design a new building, for his work exemplifies the vigorous and imaginative approach that the School has long pursued. As a pioneer, the School of Art & Art History joined studio art with academic departments of art in North-America. It also introduced the Master of Fine Arts degree which is now common in most American universities and, in the mid-twentieth century, the school championed contemporary art. Now more than ever, the University is committed to being on the frontier of educational excellence. This requires pioneering and inspiring architecture. With the design for the School of Art & Art History, Steven Holl Architects have set the precedent for a new generation of outstanding modern architecture for the twenty-first century at the University of Iowa'.
-William L. Boyd, President Emeritus, University of Iowa, 9/2006
'A topographic work opening out onto the pond, together with a stand of trees, and turning its orthogonal "back," containing classrooms and offices, to an access road coming off the suburban pattern and eventually linking across the river into the city. There is something about this form, its finish and its placement on the site that suggests that it has always been there'.
-Kenneth Frampton, Domus 896, October, 2006
'As one of the most storied art programs in the country, we were hoping to find an architect who would design a building that would be beautiful as well as functional, would understand the needs and dreams of artists and art historians, and who could envisage a building that would unite the multifaceted curricular goals of our programs through space and light. Steven Holl has surpassed our hopes and expectations. The designer of a stunning work of art in which students can make art and study its history, he has at the same time created space that are functional and embrace the latest technology. The poetry and joy of light inspire everyone who enters the new building and make teaching, studying and working there such a pleasure. The rhythm and dynamism of the spaces and these qualities of light are the signature of our building'.
-Dorothy Johnson, Hybrid Instrument, 2006
'What has unified it all is a singular determination to build the right building in the right place. Holl torpedoed the proposed site plan, preferring instead to cantilever the bulk of the glass and terra cotta-colored steel building over an old limestone quarry pond'.
-Owen Phillips, Men's Vogue, March, 2007
'Unabashedly contemporary in every way. A great leap of faith by a Midwestern university. Handsome blending of visual and physical connections of the outside and inside. The program drove the form in an elegant way affording great views and day lighting opportunities. Great care was taken in understanding the building systems and developing a consistent building tectonics. Compositionally in line with the building program and placement on site'.
-Iowa Architect, Issue 06:258, 2006
'Because of its flexibility and Holl's creativity, Iowa's art building uplifts both its users and its site. Holl figured out how to marry a relatively tight budget with an aesthetic appropriate for an art school. The thrillingly vertical stair has its horizontal counterpoint in the equally dazzling second-floor library, and L-shaped suite of spaces that works superbly as a viewing platform'.
-Kamin Blair, Architectural Record, January, 2007
'Wrapped in a skin of steel and glass, this new faculty building for young artists is a dynamic social matrix'.
-Annette Lecuyer, Architectural Review, November, 2006
'The showstopper is the central staircase, a soaring collage of steel panels and cables. A third-floor walk-up has never been such fun'.
-Travel + Leisure, November, 2006
'There's a lot of imagination and innovation, particularly with details and materials'.
-Oculus: A Publication of the AIA, New York Chapter, June, 2007
Steven Holl Architects have carefully configured the building to address a range of distinctly different external conditions and internal requirements. 52



-Annette Lecuyer, Hybrid Instrument, 2006
AWARDS

2007 AIA IOWA ARCHITECTURE HONOR AWARD OF EXCELLENCE, USA, 2006
AIA INSTITUTE HONOR AWARD, USA, 2007
AIA NEW YORK CHAPTER ARCHITECTURE MERIT AWARD, USA, 2007
RIBA International Award, UK, 2007
2007 AIA IOWA HONOR AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN CRAFT, USA, 2007
THE AMERICAN ARCHITECTURE AWARD, USA, 2008
SCUP MERIT AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN ARCHITECTURE FOR A NEW BUILDING, USA, 2010
CREDITS

architect
– Steven Holl Architects
Steven Holl, Chris McVoy, Martin Cox (design architect)
Martin Cox (associate in charge)
Li Hu, Gabriela Barman-Kraemer (project architect)
Arnault Biou, Regina Chow, Elissavet Chryssochoides, Hideki Hirahara, Brian Melcher, Chris Otterbine, Susi Sanchez, Irene Vogt, Urs Vogt (project team)

local architect
– Herbert Lewis Kruse Blunck Architecture

structural engineer
– Guy Nordenson and Associates

associate structural engineer
– Structural Engineering Associates

mechanical engineer
– Alvine & Associates

curtain wall consultant
– WJ Higgins & Co.

civil engineer
– Shive-Hattery

general contractor
– Larson Construction
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