Hancher, University of Iowa, is the state's leading performing arts presenter and has earned a stellar reputation for commissioning national and international artists to create innovative dance and theater. In 2008 many buildings suffered tremendous damage from a devastating flood. FEMA determined that Hancher, among others, could not be salvaged and funded a substantial portion of the venue's rebuilding.
Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects was awarded this competitively sought after commission and began working with Chuck Swanson, Executive Director for Hancher and members of UI's Facilities group in 2010. According to Chuck, "Working with the project team on the design and construction of our new Hancher has been a once in a lifetime experience. Together we can celebrate the opening, and know that Hancher Auditorium and the arts at the University of Iowa, will enrich the lives of University of Iowa students and Iowans from across the state for generations to come."
Excitement has been percolating all summer. Hancher Auditorium is the first of four newly constructed campus buildings opening after the flood. Beginning with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on September 9, Hancher Auditorium has opened its doors with great fanfare and public engagement. Principal-in-Charge/Design Mitchell Hirsch, AIA, LEED comments, after attending the event, "This was a wonderful celebration that commemorated the return of Greater Iowa City's cultural community living room."
Mr. Pelli describes the new Hancher as "a vision of beauty and a promise of extraordinary performances." With sweeping horizontal forms that echo the landscape and the curve of the river, the design draws from the building's natural surroundings. Parallel forms cantilever at the south end of the building, creating overhangs for the lobby and a second-level terrace. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls below the cantilevers offer panoramic views of the campus and the river.