Posts tagged with "Iowa":
While it is rare that an architect is given the chance to build adjacently to a former project, this was the case for Steven Holl Architects’ latest addition to the University of Iowa campus, in Iowa City, Iowa. Not only does Holl’s new Visual Arts Building sit next to his 2006 Arts Building West, together they create one of the campus’s major outdoor quads. For Holl, the challenge was not just to build a great building, but to build one that was even better than his much-loved first addition to the campus.
After the 2008 Iowa floods, a record-breaking, devastating natural disaster, the University of Iowa needed to replace its original 1936 Visual Arts Building. Rather than go directly to Holl to build the new project, the university held a design competition, which Holl won. The approach to the project would be vastly different than that of the 2006 building.
“You have to make it as good or better,” Holl explained. “That is why it took 30 schemes to get it right. We took the approach, as we have done before in terms of historic buildings, of complementary contrast. The first building is Cor-Ten and planar, with the steel structure exposed. This building is volumetric, not planar and concrete, not steel, and a different strategy altogether.”
Comprised of four offset levels, seven vertical cutouts produce outdoor balconies and indoor atria, bringing light deep into the new building. Other apertures lay behind the outer porous zinc skin system, arranged and sized with the Fibonacci sequence. Together, the cutouts and windows allow for studio spaces to be completely daylit. The interior cutouts also provide space for the buildings major vertical social and circulation areas. These communal spaces were at the heart of the project’s design.
“The seven cuts of light vertically penetrate the laminar shifting section,” Holl said. “We give them all equal weight as social spaces. These become places where you take a break and talk to a friend or someone from another department. The formal operation becomes a social operation, and one of bringing in light.”
The structure of the 126,000-square-foot project plays an important role in realizing the bright, open interior. The floor plates are poured-in-place biaxial voided slabs, or “bubbledeck” slabs. This technique, used for the first time in the United States, allows for integrated mechanical systems, including radiant heating and cooling. With lighter-than-typical floor slabs and zero ductwork, the interior could be more readily dedicated to programmed space.
The Visual Arts Building will be home to art history, ceramics, 3-D design, metal arts, sculpture, printmaking, painting and drawing, graphic design, multimedia, video art, and photography.
One might not expect Iowa City, a midsize heartland town of 70,000, to be on the forefront of urban sustainability issues. But Iowa City has everything to lose if climate change isn’t addressed. In 2008, a massive flood caused an estimated $64 billion in damage to the state, roughly equivalent to that caused by Hurricane Sandy. That flood was preceded by 239 tornados, which hit the Midwest over a nine-day period.
Iowa City, a UNESCO City of Literature, has a strong, culturally active citizenry, and now it is working to channel that energy into securing its environmental future. After the flood waters subsided, and the tornado damage was clear (damage from both of those events is still evident eight years later), a group of Iowa City residents began to seriously think about how design could be used to achieve a more sustainable urban center. “Ecopolis Iowa City” was organized to brainstorm urban restoration, biodiversity, local food, inclusionary and urban designs, renewable energy, and transportation initiatives for the future of the city. Initially holding informal meetings, Ecopolis Iowa City eventually started to sponsor forums that would use storytelling, music, and conversation to identify and generate ideas. From 2014 to 2016, the events eventually turned into a movement.
The city’s 2015 fall election saw a progressive council majority win for the first time in nearly 50 years. In spring 2016, Mayor Jim Throgmorton issued a “Regenerative City” proclamation. The proclamation set goals to “replant native prairies and trees to store carbon in the soils; expand urban agriculture; to power our city and neighborhoods efficiently through green building designs and renewable energy; to expand citywide recycling and composting through a zero waste ordinance; to make low-carbon transportation choices; to grow green jobs and support companies actively greening their operations.” By summer, the ideas from the Ecopolis Forums were worked into a proposed Iowa City Climate Action Plan.
The plan aims to expand and guide the regenerative city initiatives. Iowa City is already investing $60 million into raising a major route into the city above the 100-year flood level, but the plan calls for many more actions at different scales. From establishing protected “ecodistricts” to enforcing new sustainable building requirements, the plan may greatly affect the city’s future fabric. The plan sets greenhouse gas emission and transit diversity goals through 2030, with an eye on changing the way average citizens understand their impact on the environment.
Though the Iowa City Action Plan has not been formally adopted by the city, Ecopolis points out that the six million sandbags Iowa City residents filled to try and save their city in 2008 is a sign they are ready and able to make major changes. And with Ecopolis founders now on the city council, the time is better than ever.
This article was part of our Oct. 12 issue which focused on how water is shaping today’s landscape architecture and urbanism. Communities face deluges and droughts—for some, the stakes can be survival itself, but others see opportunities for decadence. To explore these stories from around the U.S. and the world, click here.
Zinc and glass unite riverfront pavilion and pump house.In 2009, just as construction on its Principal Riverwalk pavilion was about to begin—and following years of funding-related stops and starts—Des Moines-based Substance Architecture received some unexpected news. The firm was commissioned to design a second building, a pump house, on an abutting plaza. At that point, recalled Substance's Paul Mankins, it had been about three years since the firm started work on the pavilion. "There was some discussion in the office about whether the pump house should be an independent piece, or whether it should be formally related to the pavilion," he said. "Our decision was that the pavilion would be stronger if it had this piece as a foil." Using a limited material palette of zinc and glass accented by Jun Kaneko's artwork, Substance succeeded in creating a dialogue between the two small riverfront buildings, despite their differing programs and dates of origin. The pavilion's form was shaped as much by practical circumstances as by a particular aesthetic vision. The Wallace Roberts and Todd (WRT) master plan for the Principal Riverwalk, a joint development of the City of Des Moines and the Principal Financial Group, determined the wedge shape of the site. "We're not a firm that typically does triangular buildings," noted Mankins, "but the inner workings of the floodwall were already in place before we started." The architects were further constrained by a tight budget. Rather than distribute the program across a single floor, said Mankins, "we were able to convince WRT to manipulate the plaza, tip it up to stack the program." The move cut the pavilion's footprint in half and allowed Substance to push the service functions down into the plaza itself, thus decreasing the cost of the envelope. The pavilion's focal element is its glass-enclosed cafe, stacked directly atop the cast-in-place concrete box housing the service functions. The architects created an outdoor seating area by pulling the building ten feet away from the floodwall. This gesture, too, was in part a pragmatic one, as it "eased conversations with the Army Corps of Engineers," said Mankins. "The end result produces an exterior terrace, which is fantastic. But it was not purely a design-driven decision; it was also a political decision." To mitigate solar gain, Substance shrouded the pavilion in folded black zinc that serves as both roof and wall. A broad overhang to the south provides shade in summer without sacrificing the view downriver. On the west side of the cafe, the zinc facade is louvered. "It's basically like an enormous blind with the fins oriented north," said Mankins. "It allows you to view directly north, which is upriver, unobstructed, but it blocks the western sun." The second project, the pump house, entered the mix following the flood of 2008. "We have a storm and sanitary sewer system that's cutting-edge technology for 1750," quipped Mankins. After two 500-year floods in less than two decades, the city decided it was high time to upgrade its flood management system. The pump station designed by Substance contains three pumps, one of which already existed. "There are other pump stations in Des Moines, typically just cinderblock walls around an emergency generator and several propeller pumps," explained Mankins. The architects took a different tack, echoing the neighboring pavilion with a two-part design. They encased the existing pump in translucent glass, then wrapped a triangular zinc wall around the two new pumps and associated components. Below the pump station's zinc walls, Substance used a type of Minnesota limestone deployed by WRT throughout the Principal Riverwalk development. Substance had already worked with artist Jun Kaneko on several pieces for the pavilion. The firm returned to ask for a final artwork, a multicolored glass mural. "When we were designing the pump station, we always wanted this glass mural," said Mankins. The designers collaborated with Kaneko and Germany's Derix Glasstudios on the mural itself, then engaged C3 Lighting Solutions and Commonwealth Electric to design and install an LED system for internal illumination. With the language of limestone uniting them with the rest of the Principal Riverwalk, said Mankins, the pavilion and pump station appear as "two objects placed on plazas formed by flood walls." Their relationship to one another is a (happy) marriage of opposites, thanks to the architects' strategic use of zinc and glass. "One is closed, the other open," said Mankins. "But they're clearly related to one another."
Architectural sleight of hand transforms a FEMA safe room from bunker to glass box.Tasked with designing a community center on a shoestring budget, Des Moines–based ASK Studio was unsure how to fit the program to the project's finances. Then an attendee at a community feedback session suggested applying for FEMA funds to build a combination community room and storm shelter. The FEMA tie-in solved the money problem, but it created an aesthetic challenge. The architects had originally diagrammed the community center, sited atop a central knoll in a large park in Urbandale, Iowa, as a connection point that would orient visitors without obstructing views. When the project was redefined as a safe room, said ASK's Brent Schipper, "I just cringed, because how do you have a transparent node that's also a tornado shelter? I thought, 'We're going to make a bunker, and pretend it works as the node of the centerpiece of the park.'" Luckily, Schipper's gut reaction proved wrong. A triumph of architectural sleight of hand, ASK's Giovannetti Community Shelter is built evidence that "welcoming safe room" is not an oxymoron. The modified program in place, the architects began by asking themselves, "How do you achieve transparency when all you have is concrete walls?" said Schipper. They turned first to the roof line, adding a sense of weightlessness with a broad overhang above a picnic area. Though not part of the shelter function—it would likely shear off in the event of a serious storm—the overhang plays an important role in the structure's aesthetic identity. Thanks to the canopy, "there are parts of the building that are light," said Schipper. "You can't tell it was a concrete box." A second gesture further forestalls any temptation to identify Giovannetti Community Shelter with Cold War-era bunker architecture. A glass storefront (again not included in the shelter program) encloses the walkway connecting the shelter room to the rest of the park. "When you use the building, you're always circulating in the corridor, so you're always visually connected to the park," said Schipper. "The glass belies the fact that the room you were just in is a storm shelter." The curtain wall also defines the building's exterior appearance, particularly on the south side. "What you see from the south elevation is a mostly glass structure with these very minimal roof lines," said Schipper. The tornado shelter itself was constructed from a 12-inch-thick precast concrete roof and wall panels. To keep the room from feeling too closed-off, ASK initially sketched in storm doors between the protected space and the glass corridor. Then the architects heard about Insulgard, whose tornado-safe windows had recently received FEMA approval. The architects ditched the door idea and instead installed safety windows (approximately 1 1/2 inches thick) on both the exterior walls and the wall between the shelter and the corridor. "[The design] would not have worked if you were in that room and you never had any glimpses of the outside," said Schipper. "I was amazed by the technology of the storm windows." Though ASK faced several challenges in designing the Giovannetti Community Shelter, none of the firm’s solutions were overly complicated. "In the end, it's a very simple parti," said Schipper. "We were staking all of the drama, all of the messaging, on two moves: the overhang of the roof, and the transparency of the glass facade. When you back away, it's like, 'you only did two things.' But those two things are particularly unique to the fact that it's a tornado shelter."
“The students got to have a more realistic view of offenders,” she says. “They got to see them as human beings. So someday, if they have an application from someone [who served time in prison], they won’t just throw it away.”
A system of 946 unique panels will produce optimal acoustics and aesthetics at the University of Iowa's new School of Music.For a 700-seat concert hall at the new School of Music at the University of Iowa, Seattle-based LMN Architects wanted to design a high-performing ceiling canopy that would unify the many features of traditional theatrical and acoustic systems. The result is a 150-foot-long by 70-foot-wide surface composed of 946 suspended, intricately laced panels that incorporate complex, interdependent, and at times conflicting systems—including lighting, theatrics, speakers, sprinklers, and acoustical functionality—in a unified architectural gesture. "The system is sculptural for sure, but it had to conceal structural truss work, which was a major cost savings as opposed to building an acoustic container," said Stephen Van Dyck, a principal at LMN Architects. The design team worked with both parametric digital and physical models to coordinate the structural system with the acoustic, theatrical, audio/visual, lighting, fire, and material elements of the canopy. "From Day One, it was a digital model," he said. "We needed a smaller physical model to get everyone's head around making this happen physically. A three-foot room model has a big impact on ability to conceive." LMN fabricated the scale model, as well as a few full-sized components, on the firm’s 3-axis CNC mill. The canopy is divided into hundreds of panels, each of which is unique to accommodate the needs of the many systems. Along the back of the canopy's perimeter, panels feature large openings so that the sound profile of each concealed speaker passes through unimpeded. Other panels along the perimeter are designed with varying degrees of acoustic transparency relative to the size of openings on surrounding panels. Medium openings toward the back of the canopy house stage lighting, while smaller openings accommodate house lights. Panels with the smallest openings, or those less than 70 percent open, conceal sprinklers, while the solid panels that droop down over the stage are angled to effectively reflect sound into the house. "From the audience, the intent is for sound to reach you quickly rather than for other sounds to arrive slower," Van Dyck explained, "so the sculptural gesture brings sounds right back to the audience." The many consultants who contributed to the design worked in different digital formats. The acousticians used SketchUp; the lighting designers worked in Revit; and theater and audio/visual specifications were saved as DWG files. Each program was compatible with Rhino and, with a Grasshopper plugin, LMN was able to incorporate information from all other platforms. "The parametric model was very flexible and let us accommodate changes all along as developments came from other contributors," Van Dyck said of the design process, which he described as more cyclical than linear. The parametric capabilities of the digital tools that the team used helped facilitate a smooth and efficient documentation process during the mock ups, making it easy to go back through any kinks that were uncovered. LMN built the mockup from aluminum composite paneling, a relatively inexpensive metal system composed of two layers of aluminum with a composite core. The material is highly flexible and it can be bent by hand after scoring on the CNC mill. This process could potentially eliminate on-site fabrication requirements. Fabrication data generated by this production model will be applied to all 946 of the unique panels in the final project. Documents will go to bid this summer, and the building is expected to open in 2016.
A non-profit group in Mason City, Iowa is restoring the last remaining Frank Lloyd Wright designed hotel, according to the AP. Completed in 1910, the Park Inn Hotel complex also includes a bank branch and a small office building. It had previously been used as a hotel, apartments, and a strip club.
The building was owned by the city, which after failing to sell the structure on eBay (they were asking $10 million for the dilapidated structure), turned it over to the Wright on the Park, Inc., which pledged to restore it using public and private funds. They recently received an $8.2 million grant from the state of Iowa toward the project and are looking to raise an additional $2 million.
When the renovation is complete, the hotel will include 20 suites. Though the group can claim that the Historic Park Inn is the only extant hotel designed by Wright, the Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, originally designed as an office building and residence, has been converted into a hotel.