IOWA CITY -- Steve McGuire looks at the new University of Iowa Visual Arts Building and sees a range of benefits.
The state-of-the-art arts building is already being featured in architectural magazines, said McGuire, an art professor and the director of UI's studio arts division in the art and art history department. Clouded glass gives the five-story interior a diffuse glow and soft light for artists to work in, and the green roof provides a visually stimulating place for students to work as well as catching and mitigating rain water runoff. The building has silver certification in the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design standard.
Not least of those benefits is the building's location on UI's campus at 107 River St., rather than the old Studio Arts building, a renovated old Menards building at 1375 Highway 1.
"It's huge," McGuire said of the difference between the locations. "Do not underestimate the challenges of a Cambus schedule that takes students 3 miles off campus."
The centrality of the new building is especially important for generating interest in the department among nonmajors, McGuire said at a media tour on Wednesday. UI will officially hold a grand opening for the building at 3:30 p.m. Friday
"When you’re in proximity, people come through your space and they see what’s going on, they’re more inclined to entertain the question: ‘What if I took a course?’" he said.
While there are 752 undergraduate majors in the department, more than double that number — around 1,600 — are taking classes in the Visual Arts Building this semester. The move makes it easier for those students to fit classes into their schedules and will help strengthen the art department's connection to other disciplines like engineering, cinema and new digital arts classes, McGuire said.
Take a video tour of the UI's new Visual Arts Building by clicking here
He expects enrollment to go up and said the art department has already tripled the audience for its regular lectures.
Take a video tour of the UI's new Visual Arts Building by clicking here.