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Hancher Auditorium, University of Iowa

Iowa City, IA
189,000 sq ft

Widely recognized for commissioning new works of dance and music, Hancher Auditorium reaches audiences beyond the University of Iowa. After the Iowa River flooded in 2008, FEMA determined that the existing Hancher Auditorium should be replaced with a new facility.

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Every space in the existing building was reviewed carefully with Hancher’s staff and the university to determine how and where it would most effectively be replaced and improved in the new facility. A performance venue for both the region and the University of Iowa, the 1,800-seat room was designed to be an excellent space for dance, natural sound and amplified performances.

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The curving forms of the exterior and interior take their cues from the Iowa River and the landscape of Iowa, with canopied terraces that allow shaded views to the river below and the expanse of the campus beyond.


A key component to the back-of-house program is the 150-seat Strauss Hall, a rehearsal room and performance space with the flexibility to become the backdrop for outdoor performances.
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Design Architect: Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects
Design Team Leader: Gina Narracci

2019 AIA Connecticut Building of the Year
2019 AIA Connecticut Award of Excellence
2018 Chicago Athenaeum American Architecture Award
2017 International Association of Lighting Design Award of Excellence
2017 The Illuminating Engineering Society Merit Award
LEED Silver

Photographs © Jeff Goldberg/ESTO