University of Iowa dedicates new Psychological and Brain Sciences building

The University of Iowa cut the ceremonial ribbon at its new Psychological and Brain Sciences building Jan. 24, as students, faculty, and staff within the department transition out of its previous home in 120-year-old Seashore Hall.


Wyatt Dlouhy

Speakers from the event cut a ceremonial ribbon during the opening reception for the Psychological and Brain Sciences Building on Jan. 24. The building has been under construction for two and a half years but was ready for use by faculty and students for the spring semester of 2020.

Katie Ann McCarver and Kelsey Harrell

Hawkeyes recently celebrated beginning the spring semester with a new home for students studying psychological and brain sciences.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house Jan. 24 showed off the University of Iowa’s new Psychological and Brain Sciences Building, which replaced Seashore Hall as the home for the Psychology Department after decades of being housed there.

The UI broke ground for the new building on the east side of campus in fall 2018, and has since demolished two wings of Seashore, as previously reported by The Daily Iowan. The university in September 2019 received approval from the state Board of Regents to raze the remainder of the 120-year-old building.

As the spring semester has begun, UI Psychological and Brain Sciences Department Chair Mark Blumberg said he has watched with pleasure while students, faculty, and staff discover the building and what it has to offer.

“It’s as if the building and its inhabitants are literally coming to life,” Blumberg said at the dedication. “So, thank you for coming here today and celebrating with us this important milestone in our history.”

RELATED: Last remaining section of Seashore Hall receives approval for razing

The event kicked off with a media-only tour of the building and its new amenities before a dedication ceremony with remarks from Blumberg, UI President Bruce Harreld, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Stephen Goddard, and psychological and brain sciences undergraduate student Olivia Westemeier.

The tour of the building highlighted the student lounge spaces found on each floor, the teaching assistant offices with open space for students to interact and collaborate, and labs for researchers to conduct their work with updated equipment and technology.

Wyatt Dlouhy
The Psychological and Brain Sciences Building is seen on Jan. 24.

“This particular project took quite a while and several of us will recall multiple tours of very, very old infrastructure on the campus … most, if not all high schools in the state have better facilities than we were in,” Harreld said.

The new space will allow for more collaboration in the department, opening doors for diversifying science more and making the department better as a whole, Harreld said.

The new building connects with Spence Labs on each floor, making it easier for faculty to travel to and from their offices to lab space. The clinical psychology department is still housed in Stuit Hall, located behind the new building.

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As a student in the Psychological and Brain Sciences Department, Westemeier stated at the dedication that, although Seashore Hall was the location of her classes for several years, it was never a home. It was, however, a home for rats, hornets, and various unidentified critters, she said.

“I remember trying to go to … discussion section in that building and fearing for my life every single time I’d go up and down the stairs. It’s hard to feel connected to a department when the space designed for you is borderline uninhabitable,” Westemeier said. “And with this building, I can already tell things are going to change.”

Compared with the three years she was a student in Seashore, Westemeier said her week in the new Psychological and Brain Sciences Building has already led to more friendly encounters with professors and peers alike.

Each person she passes, Westemeier added, has a face filled with joy and excitement at the prospect of having a new space that they can be proud of. In order to innovate and learn, students, faculty, and staff within the department must have a space where they feel a sense of belonging, she said.

“We finally have a space that reflects the greatness of our department, and more cultivate that community that is so well deserved,” Westemeier said. “So, all that’s left to say is, ‘Welcome home.’ ”