Iowa Alumni Magazine | December 2006 | Features

Mapping the University

By Carol Harker
Levitt Center "The campus, by necessity, is built piece by piece. The master plan framework is a tool that can help planners and designers think about each new piece as a contribution to a larger whole." —from the 2006 Campus Master Plan

Cranes nose above the campus skyline like busy storks, promising deliveries. Since 1998, they've towered over nearly two dozen building sites and marked the addition or major renovation of one-fourth of the university's physical plant.

And the building's not done. With one of the largest enrollments in university history, more classroom space is needed, along with research labs and faculty offices. A major new building for the College of Public Health, for instance, is well along the planning path that will bring together colleagues who have been scattered among 16 different locations. The largest UI college, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is due for more usable space, too, and students will get what they've said they want and need—a fully equipped recreation facility on the east side of campus. Plus, a modernized State Hygienic Laboratory and much-needed library storage are among already-planned projects that total more than a half million gross square feet.

Guiding this growth and the pressure of future expansion is the Campus Master Plan, a new edition of which was released earlier this fall. The first UI plan to forecast growth of the colleges, it pledges to bring order to the demands for additional or better space, while protecting the spirit of the campus and its green spaces.

In short, the plan continues the long-held principle of functional areas on campus, protects the Pentacrest and other historic areas, recognizes the visual and environmental value of natural areas along the Iowa River and elsewhere, and continues to nudge the campus culture away from private transportation to focus on pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Future construction will be concentrated in already urbanized areas of the campus and will build up, not out. Even parking will grow vertically, as the plan identifies several locations where parking ramps could replace parking lots.

The University of Iowa will never look like the White City of Chicago's 1893 World's Fair, although an early UI architect envisioned it so. It won't look like Thomas Jefferson's beloved red-bricked and white-columned University of Virginia, although there was a time when the buildings around Old Capitol were built of brick. And, despite the golden domes reflecting the light over both campuses, the University of Iowa will never look like the University of Notre Dame either. The UI has ornamental carved wildlife on Macbride Hall, not gargoyles.

The University of Iowa has its own identity, forged by the river and its limestone bluffs, and, most recently, by architects whose distinctive projects have moved the UI to the cutting edge of world architecture.

Fast Facts:

Campus Land Area
1,700 acres
Gross Square Feet (GSF) of Buildings
15.7 million
Total Number of Buildings on Campus
GSF of New Projects in Planning Phase
  • Campus Regreation & Wellness Center
  • State Hygienic Laboratory
  • College of Public Health Building
  • Library Storage Facility
  • Liberal Arts & Sciences Building
    (Seashore Hall)
  • Environmental Management Facility






Total Additional Building Capacity in GSF 5 million


Renew existing facilities when cost-effective. Only when renewal will not result in useful space configurations, or where renewal will prolong the inefficient use of an existing valuable land area should building removal be considered. (Buildings slated to be razed include the International Center and Oakdale Hall, while Westlawn is another building that will be reviewed in future years.)

Adopt an infill strategy to optimize the use of campus land. Concentrated building in the East and West Campuses could add approximately 4.25 million gross square feet of capacity.

Provide peripheral parking for students and a large proportion of university employees; meet public demand for parking in core areas with ramps.

Unify the campus through a connecting fabric of landscape, establish a "River Park" along the Iowa River, and identify existing landscape areas as permanent and protected open space.

New Buildings, 1998-2006
2.4 million Gross Square Feet (GSF)

Levitt Center for University Advancement
Graduate Painting Studio
National Advanced Driving Simulator
Stadium at Robert L. Pearl Softball Field
University Services Building
Biology Bridge
Biology Building East
Seamans Center Addition (College of Engineering)
Roy G. Karro Hall of Fame
Newton Road Parking Ramp
Medical Education & Research Facility
Blank Honors Center
Russell & Ann Gerdin Athletic Learning Center
Roy J. & Lucille A. Carver Biomedical Research Building
Melrose Avenue Parking Facility
Philip D. Adler Journalism & Mass Communication Building
Pomerantz Center
Pomerantz Family Pavilion
Art Building West
Dey House Addition: Glenn Schaeffer Library & Archives
Tennis & Recreation Center

Renovated Buildings, 1998-2006
1.8 million Gross Square Feet (GSF)

President's Residence
Shambaugh House
Burge Dining Hall
Chemistry Building
Biology Building
Biological Sciences Library
Old Capitol
Schaeffer Hall
Seamans Center
University Capitol Centre
Museum of Art
Hillcrest Residence Hall
Stanley Hydraulics Laboratory
Bowen Science Building
Medical Laboratories General Hospital
Kinnick Stadium

The Pentacrest

Protected Areas

The Pentacrest

Cleary Walkway

Hubbard Park

Gibson Square

Quadrangle Ravine

Health Sciences Greenway

"Outdoor spaces should be consciously designed rather than being the mere leftover spaces after buildings are constructed."

—from the 2006 Campus Master Plan