The University of Iowa

The University of Iowa’s new Hancher Auditorium is just days away from opening its doors.


I know this moment in the history of the UI is important to me. Quite frankly, it’s incredibly important to me. But Hancher is my life, my career. It’s what I do. So, naturally, I’m like a kid counting down the days to Christmas morning.


The question you’re likely asking is why the reopening of Hancher should be important to you?


The new Hancher is an inspiring structure. Rising up from the northern edge of the UI campus, its presence is stunning, particularly in the early evening when the sun is glistening off both its brushed steel exterior and the nearby Iowa River. Hancher’s interior is equally meaningful. Contemporary technology, thoughtful amenities, and meticulous details abound and are what will make the new Hancher work so well for so many.


Yes. The new Hancher is memorable inside and out, and Iowans everywhere and everyone with any connection to the University of Iowa should be proud of that and the perseverance it took to reach this point.


I know its architect, César Pelli of Pelli Clark Pelli, is. So, too, are the hundreds of craftsmen and women who poured more than a million of hours of personal and professional commitment into the construction of our reborn Hancher. We can also count among the proud the many friends of the UI who have been generous in supporting the institution’s share of the funding for the project.


However, as remarkable and inspiring as our new Hancher is to gaze upon, that exciting reality is secondary to the most important feature of the facility.  What’s most important about the new Hancher is the incredible work which will happen inside the structure each day because that is what will enable UI to give back to the state of Iowa while advancing both the performing arts and higher education.


Our new Hancher will provide both students and professionals alike the highest of quality performance spaces, spaces that can be either intimate or, when desired, robust enough to host large-scale work that can’t be presented elsewhere in our community.


Our new Hancher will continue Hancher’s longstanding tradition of entrepreneurship brought to life in the form of commissioned new works like the reimagined Joffrey Ballet Nutcracker that will take to the Hancher stage in December.


It will also continue to be a place where performances by accomplished artists serve as models for UI students studying the performing arts as well as a laboratory where collaborations involving students, faculty, and staff from a variety of disciplines come to fruition. And it is yet another place on our campus where UI students can get a head start on their careers by applying what they learn in the classroom to a real workplace.


Hancher will again be a place where young people—including kindergarten, elementary, and high school students—can have incredible experiences that will enrich their lives and fuel their dreams. And Hancher will continue to spread those transformative experiences across the state for young and old alike, building on its years of experience of sharing art and artists in every corner of our state.


Our good friend and former University of Iowa president Sandy Boyd once declared the original Hancher Auditorium as “the largest classroom on the University of Iowa campus.” Sandy was right then and is right again today as we prepare to celebrate Hancher’s grand opening in advance of similar celebrations for the UI’s new Visual Arts Building, Voxman Music Building, and the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.


In closing, I want to invite you to join in my excitement and participate in the dedication and open house of new Hancher Auditorium. We – the greater UI community, the people of Iowa, and friends of the UI worldwide – have much to be proud of as we embark on this new and exciting chapter of the performing arts at the University of Iowa.


I extend my invitation while also making this pledge to you: Today, tomorrow, or 15 years from today, the new Hancher will continue to be a world-class classroom where we reach further, create community, provide the opportunity to explore the big issues of the day, find joy in shared experiences and collaborations, and serve our community, Iowans, and the world as a renowned source of inspiration.



Chuck Swanson

Executive Director

Hancher Auditorium

Publication Source: 
Hancher Auditorium