The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Construction of new UI psychology facility partially delayed

The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences’ new home awaits construction bids.
Ben Smith
Seashore Hall is pictured on a rainy day on Monday, Sept. 18, 2017. The Iowa Board of Regents approved plans to build a $33.5 million facility at the corner of Gilbert St. and Iowa Ave., but the higher than average construction costs are continuously delaying efforts.

By Paige Schlichte

[email protected]

For the first time in almost 90 years, the University of Iowa Psychological and Brain Sciences Department will receive a new home as the university eyes building a new facility at the intersection of Gilbert Street and Iowa Avenue.

Since 1930, the department has been housed in Seashore Hall, then called East Hall. Seashore was built in 1899 and was the University Hospital prior to 1930.

“We’re definitely due for a move,” former department chair Jodie Plumert said. “We want to provide a new face for the department.”

Psychology is the UI’s largest undergraduate major. The department also conducts extensive research, and the current buildings were not meeting those needs, Plummert said.

“It’ll be the first time in the history of the department that the department has had a true home,” current department chair Mark Blumberg said. “In Seashore, we don’t have a comfortable learning environment.”

Plumert said the new building will contain one larger classroom that can seat 60-70 students and one smaller classroom that can seat around 30. In addition, it will include learning nooks and study rooms for students who wish to meet and work on projects.

RELATED: Regents committee to recommend new psych building, razing part of Seashore

The southeast wing of Seashore Hall will be razed to make room for the new building. The new facility will be connected on all floors to Spence Labs, in which the department conducts research.

“This will allow for a much more collaborative environment,” Blumberg said. “It’ll be designed for more interaction among faculty and students that work in the labs.”

The project was approved by the state Board of Regents in April, and construction was slated to start last summer; however, because of higher-than-expected construction bids, the project has been delayed.

“The university decided the best thing to do was to make some changes to the project to reduce cost and rebid it,” Plumert said.

She and Blumberg said the changes that were made include using different kinds of material and rescheduling parts of the project to put off finishing certain areas of the building.

“We’re not sure how much they’re going to have to put off,” Blumberg said. “But the building isn’t expected to be entirely finished when it opens.”

The department will know by the end of this month how the project’s future will play out.

The $33.5 million project is being funded through private donations and university funds, Plumert said.

Psychology Professor Michael O’Hara, a co-chair of fundraising for the project, said the campaign is seeking some outside funding with the help of the UI Center for Advancement.

RELATED: UI Foundation and Alumni Association move forward with merger

“Fundraising began shortly after the Board of Regents gave the final approval for the building to proceed earlier this year,” he said. “We began to reach out to alums and others that we judged based on their work to have an interest in this building.”

Plumert said the completion date for the building is tentatively set for December 2019.

“It’ll be a huge boon to the health and well-being of the department,” Blumberg said. “It’ll provide the students space [in which] they can congregate — it’ll give them more of a sense of major and department.”

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