Steven Holl returns with sculptural arts complex in Iowa

The building is a place of inspiration for its students, faculty and visitors to encounter the joy of architecture
– Steven Holl

The University of Iowa will today (7 October) unveil its flagship new arts centre, designed by Steven Holl Architects.

The 126,000sq ft (11,700sq m) Visual Arts Building contains galleries, workshops, teaching spaces for Art History and an outdoor rooftop studio.

Carvings into the zinc-clad concrete volume form seven terraced ‘cutout’ light courts and multiple balconies, infusing the interior with light. A campus route threads through the largest of these courts, engaging the larger university community with art programmes.

“A great social space at the center of this new building connects the arts to all disciplines on the University of Iowa campus,” said Steven Holl. “The building is a place of inspiration for its students, faculty and visitors to encounter the joy of architecture.”

The facility replaces an original arts building from 1936, which was heavily damaged during a flood of the university campus in June 2008.

Designed in partnership with BNIM Architects, it contrasts and complements the adjacent Art Building West – designed by Holl a decade ago – to create a new Art Quad. It provides space for various visual arts media to be created and displayed, from ancient metalsmithing techniques to advanced virtual reality technologies, and works on public display include ceramics, jewellery, sculptures, prints, paintings, video art and photography.

Steven Holl Architects senior partner Chris McVoy said: “We set out to make a studio art building for the future of the arts which are more and more interconnected. Light and movement permeate all the studios, opening up access and views for creative abrasion between all art making activities.”

According to the architects, the Visual Arts Building is the first in the United States to employ the combination of a cast-in-place ‘bubble deck’ slab with an integrated radiant heating and cooling system. By incorporating into the formwork high-density air-filled polyethylene spheres as voids, they were able to creates a thinner, stronger, lighter deck and decrease the amount of material used to construct slabs by up to 30 per cent.

Steven Holl  University of Iowa  Visual Arts Building  US  art  architecture  design 
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The University of Iowa will today (7 October) unveil its flagship new arts centre, designed by Steven Holl Architects. The 126,000sq ft (11,700sq m) Visual Arts Building contains galleries, workshops, teaching spaces for Art History and an outdoor rooftop studio. Carvings into the zinc-clad concrete volume form seven terraced ‘cutout’ light courts and multiple balconies, infusing the interior with light. A campus route threads through the largest of these courts,
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Carvings into the zinc-clad concrete volume form seven terraced ‘cutout’ light courts and multiple balconies, infusing the interior with light / Steven Holl Architects
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