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Saturday, July 05, 2008

Holl Underwater

Steven Holl's design for the University of Iowa's School of Art and Art History (aka Art Building West) opened in 2006. Located less than 500' from the Iowa River on the University's Arts Campus, the building's most notable feature is a second-floor wing that juts toward a pond in which a couple of its supports actually sit. This site feature and the architecture overhead relate to the nearby river, with the latter actually positioned parallel to the larger body of water.

[Photograph by Andy Ryan | image source]

[Aerial view with Holl building under construction, with cantilevered wing yet to be built | image source]

This proximity to the Iowa River meant bad news for the new building when rising flood waters last month closed it and 19 other University buildings. Holl's buildings seems to portend this sort of rare event, with its lifted projection acknowledging the feats required to design around natural disasters. Unfortunately the rest of the building is comfortably close to grade, a good situation on some days but not this summer.

[Partially underwater | image source]

[Map with University building closures in red | image source]

The below images show the more predominant situation of Holl's ground-hugging design and the effects of rising water on such a thing. With the waters about halfway up the ground-floor windows, it looks like the University must contend with about four feet of standing water, a height comparable to sections of New Orleans after 2005's Hurricane Katrina. Only time will tell how Holl's design, especially the copper steel exterior, stands up to the high water. Stay tuned for updates as recovery progresses.

Steven Holl in Iowa City
[Before the flood | image source]

[Partially underwater | image source]

1 comment:

  1. See also Life Without Building's post on the submersion of Frank Gehry's Advanced Technology Building on the same campus.


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