Architect Pelli Clarke Pelli, OPN Architects
2018 American Architecture Award-Winner, Museums and Cultural Buildings
Replacing the original iconic building at the University of Iowa, Hancher Auditorium is the new 189,000 square-foot fine arts venue on campus. The original building served the university for more than 30 years, until it was lost to the flood of 2008.
Hancher Auditorium was designed to not only respect the original building’s design, but also respond to the surrounding environment, including the adjacent Iowa River as well as neighboring facilities. To achieve the unique aesthetics put forward by the design team, most of the exterior envelope systems were custom designed and built for this one-of-a-kind facility. From a non-directional, buffed finish of stainless steel panels that wouldn’t oil can to the low-iron glass panels that disappear at both the floor and ceiling, attention to detail was key in perfecting the design team’s vision.
Collaborative 3-D modeling was an integral part of the design and construction of the building envelope, resolving the geometry for corners and transitions from curved to flat surfaces. Overall, the project demanded near perfection in the execution of the curtain wall system, including numerous mullion adaptor extrusions to satisfy the radial design and unique connections that allow horizontal and vertical movement to accommodate cantilever and differential structural deflections. Craftsman were also uniquely challenged to create a flat-lock aesthetic while maintaining the performance of a pressure-equalized rainscreen system.
Acoustic considerations, such as sound-deadening, laminated glass panes, were also made in specific areas of the façade that surrounded performance spaces. The building’s envelope was designed to be highly efficient, earning a LEED Silver certification and built to 500-year flood criteria.