IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — As the new Hancher Auditorium begins to take shape along the Iowa River, and the new School of Music rises downtown, looks might be deceiving as to which is the more complicated of the two massive University of Iowa projects.
Hancher, a $176 million project, is arguably the glitzier of the two fine arts facilities, which are in the early stages of construction on the opposite ends of campus after the flood of 2008 shuttered the complex they once shared. The steel-clad Hancher's curving, futuristic design will stand in contrast to the clean lines and modern architecture of the glassy, $153 million School of Music.
But the School of Music's exterior simplicity belies what will be inside. Randy Clarahan, an executive with Mortenson Construction, which is managing both the Hancher and School of Music sites, calls it one of the most complicated projects he's overseen.
"I have the unique spot of being able to see both projects develop," Clarahan told the Iowa City Press-Citizen (http://icp-c.com/1gF4F2M). "As neat as Hancher is, and as architecturally challenging as it is because of its geometry, inside will be a great performance hall, but I'm going to say it's reasonably straightforward.
"That's versus the School of Music, which on the outside looks reasonably straightforward, but then you get inside, and there are over 150 acoustically sensitive spaces."
When it opens in the fall of 2016, the six-story School of Music, designed by Seattle-based LMN Architects and local architect of record Neumann Monson, will feature a 700-seat concert hall, 200-seat recital hall, an organ hall, opera and chamber music spaces, studios, classrooms and dozens of individual rehearsal spaces.
Each of those rooms, Clarahan says, will be tailored acoustically to suit an array of musical functions. For the performance hall, for instance, architects designed an intricate, lattice-like suspended "theatroacoustic system" — a single curved aluminum screen that will hang from the ceiling to reflect light and sound. Practice rooms, meanwhile, are being built with masonry block walls, double ceilings and special floors to contain the sound and enhance acoustics.