It's already been a big year for CLAS facilities with the opening of the Nonfiction Writing House, Space Place Theater renovations, and several other major construction projects underway.
Monday, November 20, 2023

There has been substantial progress on facilities this fiscal year in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with the opening of the Nonfiction Writing House, Space Place Theater renovations, and several other major construction projects underway. 

The University of Iowa is following a 10-year facilities master plan that was updated last year. The plan seeks to improve campus for students, faculty, staff, and visitors. Projects that are part of the plan will move forward based on institutional priorities, available funding, and approval by the Iowa Board of Regents. 

Learn more about the recently completed and upcoming projects in CLAS. 

Recently completed 

The Nonfiction Writing House, a newly constructed two-story facility on the corner of North Clinton and Church streets, opened in September.

Nonfiction Writing House

The $1.25 million donor-funded project features 4,800 square feet of space for classrooms, offices, a multimedia lab, a library and more. 

The building is near the Iowa Writers’ Workshop’s Dey House and the International Writing Program’s Shambaugh House, creating a neighborhood that faculty members are dubbing “writer’s row.” 

The Space Place Theater, located in the basement of North Hall, received significant renovations and improvements that will benefit both the performers and the audience. The $100,000 in upgrades was funded by the college. 

The theater now has new signage and reupholstered seating, in addition to remodeled changing rooms. 

In progress 

Construction has begun on the $6.9 million renovation of Van Allen Hall’s seventh floor for space physics. The anticipated competition is in the late fall of 2024. For project funding, $3.8 million will come from university central administration, with the remainder committed by the college with assistance from an award from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust. 

Work on the $249 million Health Sciences Academic Building began this fall. A groundbreaking ceremony for the new six-level building was held Oct. 31. Construction on the project, which is located at the corner of Melrose and South Grand streets, will wrap up by summer 2025. 

Health Sciences Academic Building

The building will be home to two CLAS departments—health and human physiology, as well as communication sciences and disorders—in addition to Carver College of Medicine's physical therapy and rehabilitation science program. 

This building is a key project because the hospital plans to build an inpatient tower where the Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Center sits, as well as an additional potential future project. 

Nearly $2 million in funding from central administration has been secured for renovations in Mabie Theatre and Thayer Theatre. The project focuses on safety upgrades for the two theatres, including motorized rigging, a new tension grid and new fire curtain. This work is anticipated to be completed summer 2024. 

There are also a variety of small renovation projects planned for the current fiscal year, including cosmetic improvements to the English-Philosophy Building (home to English, philosophy and rhetoric) and Jessup Hall (home to geographical and sustainability sciences).

Looking ahead 

Two more exciting projects are being planned that aim to provide new, improved homes for two CLAS departments.  

The Performing Arts Annex building (formerly called the Old Museum of Art), on the west bank of the river, will be renovated to provide a new home for the Department of Dance.  

This multi-stage $9 million project—with an initial $3 million allocated—will create new dance studios, a computer lab, and office space that will allow dance to vacate the 108-year-old Halsey Hall, which is slated to be razed. The Department of Theatre Arts will also retain space for their costume shop in the renovated building. 

Further funding is expected as the project proceeds over the next several years.  

A project combining renovation with new construction at the Iowa Advanced Technological Laboratories building is being planned, which will allow this striking building on the east bank of the river to be utilized by the Department of Computer Science.

Iowa Advanced Technological Laboratories

The project is estimated to cost $20 million to $25 million.

The computer science department is currently housed in the 111-year-old Maclean Hall, which does not meet its space and technological needs. The department is home to about 900 undergraduate students, an increase of more than 300% since 2006.