Regents to consider replacing two UI buildings - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Regents to consider replacing two UI buildings

IOWA CITY (KWWL) -- Friday the University of Iowa announced it is considering replacing two art buildings severly damaged in last summer's floods.

The Art Building East houses much of the School of Art and Art History, and the Hancher/Voxman/Clapp complex houses the School of Music as well as Hancher Auditorium -- the University's main performing arts venue.

The Board of Regents will consider replacing the complexes at their meeting next week.  The regents aren't expected to make a decision, however, until april -- at the earliest.

Here's the official release from the University of Iowa:

UI evaluates replacement for two flood-damaged building complexes

The University of Iowa next week will present the Iowa Board of Regents with its analysis of the costs to replace two major building complexes damaged in the flood of 2008.

The analysis examines the costs of replacing the Art Building East complex, which houses much of the School of Art and Art History; and the Hancher/Voxman/Clapp complex, which houses the UI School of Music and Hancher Auditorium, the UI's principal performing arts venue. No site recommendations for new buildings will be made at the meeting, but that issue remains under active consideration.

The Board of Regents will make the final decision on whether to replace or restore the existing buildings and protect them from future flooding. The Regents will hear the UI's presentation at its regular meeting March 19 on the UI campus. A final decision is not expected until April at the earliest.

"Our consultants and our campus experts have examined the costs and benefits of the options for important building complexes. Now we are eager to share those findings with the Regents, to hear their questions, and discuss the next steps," said UI President Sally Mason. "We all want what is best for our campus and our state. Our goal is to demonstrate a continued sense of urgency that gives our students, faculty and staff confidence in our continuing commitment to their well-being."

The UI announced on Jan. 26 that the Art East and Hancher/Voxman/Clapp complexes were the only flood-damaged facilities eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) financial support to cover 90 percent of the eligible cost for either a new building or restoration and flood mitigation for an existing building. For the other UI buildings damaged by the flood, FEMA will provide 90 percent of the eligible cost of restoration and mitigation only.

After a comprehensive study of the costs of the replacement and restoration options, as well as costs for prospective flood mitigation costs and for temporary facilities for displaced faculty, staff and students, UI officials estimate that the total campus-wide flood recovery cost will be $740 million. This amount assumes that Art Building East and Hancher/Voxman/Clapp are replaced entirely in order to meet current program needs.

After factoring in contributions from commercial and federal flood insurance and from expected FEMA grants, the remaining cost to the UI for replacing the two buildings and all other flood recovery is estimated at $185 million, which would be spread over six years. UI officials will provide details on the potential sources of those funds at the Regents meeting.

UI officials explain that FEMA will cover 90 percent of the eligible cost of the existing square footage for each of the building complexes. However, neither Art Building East, originally constructed in 1936, nor Hancher/Voxman/Clapp, built in 1972, is adequate for today's program needs.

For example, the School of Music has added or expanded programs in music therapy, jazz, chamber music and percussion since 1972. Its existing classrooms and its recording studio are too small for current technology. Similarly, if Hancher were renovated in its current location, it would lose 500 of its 2,500 seats in order to meet modern building code requirements.

The cost to replace Hancher/Voxman/Clapp is pegged at $180 million with another $40 million needed for expansion and technology upgrades to meet current teaching and performance requirements. Incorporation of state-of-the-art sustainable design would add to the overall cost but would pay beneficial dividends and be a showcase for sustainable design in Iowa. Construction of a new building complex could be completed in the fall of 2013.

The estimated cost of replacing the old Art Building East is $45 million, plus another $15 million for program space additions to meet current and basic teaching program requirements, especially for newer programs in intermedia and digital photography.

At next week's Board of Regents' meeting, the UI will also present preliminary information on possible sites for the new building complexes. However, no recommendations will be made until forthcoming river flood modeling studies are completed later this month by Ayres Associates and the UI's flood mitigation task force.


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