UI to pursue seven projects capital across campus

The UI received approval to move ahead with plans to renovate or build new projects across campus, including creating a new parking ramp near Kinnick Stadium.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Board of Regents president Mike Richards is seen during the board of regents meeting on April 6, 2021 at the Alumni Center at Iowa State University. The Board of Regents looked over requests and plans from the University of Northern Iowa, Iowa State University, the Iowa school for the deaf, and the University of Iowa.

Kate Perez, News Editor

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The University of Iowa received approval from the state Board of Regents to move ahead with plans for seven capital improvement projects involving university buildings across campus Thursday.

According to the original request to the regents, the UI will split the projects into three parts, reflecting the different steps each project is currently at. In the first part, it requests approval to proceed with planning for the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science Research buildings.

College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science Research Construction

For this project, the UI will build new medical innovation and biosciences laboratories on floors three, four, and five of the pharmaceutical science research building and floor six of the pharmacy building.

According to the request, $12 million to $13 million of the project budget will come from the State of Iowa Economic Recovery Funds and Treasurer’s Temporary Investment Income. The UI had previously been awarded an $8.2 million grant for bioscience research and economic development, which would be used to renovate the College of Pharmacy building.

Rod Lehnertz, UI senior vice president for finance and operations, said at the Wednesday regents meeting that the university is very excited about the project.

“It’s been a target for us for some time,” Lehnertz said.

The regents also approved waiving the Design Professional Selection Process to contract OPN Architects and IMEG Corporation.

Additionally, the UI is planning a building out of level seven in Stead Family Children’s Hospital to expand the neonatal intensive care unit and extend the bridge connecting the hospital to the John Pappajohn Pavilion.

“Based on capacity issues that have been well documented and discussed here with the Board of Regents, we find it is a optimal and needed time for us to engage in activating that space and increasing our NICU operations,” Lehnertz said.

The project will cost roughly $40-49 million and will be funded by University Hospitals Building Usage Funds. The UI also received permission from the regents to waive the Design Professional Selection Process to hire the architects SLAM.

New parking ramp near Kinnick Stadium, updates to medical buildings

The UI also received approval for the “schematic design, project description, and budget” of three projects. The first project involves building a new, five-level parking ramp on the west side of campus, placed north of Kinnick Stadium. 

Lehnertz said the project is a major enabling project that has already been discussed with the regents. 

The ramp is part of the 10-year master plan for the UI Hospitals and Clinics, intending to reduce the strain of parking in the area. Included in the project plans is a new skywalk from the ramp which will be connected to the existing skywalk at the hospital.

“This ramp will have a direct connection and extend that interior walkway to the hospital,” Lehnertz said. “… which enables us to take the aging and smaller hospital Ramp 1 down and make the footprint available for our in-process and being programmed hospital patient tower.”

The budgeted cost for the project is $75 million, with the funding coming from the parking system revenue bond proceeds.

Project four surrounds renovating the Medical Laboratories Building for pediatric research, budgeted for $7.8 million which will be funded by the treasurer’s temporary investment income. In its request, the UI wrote that the renovations will “accommodate both present and future research needs,” including new faculty offices and laboratory support rooms.

“It is primarily a modernization of that older building for modern research needs for pediatrics,” Lehnertz said. 

For project five, the UI received approval to build a two-story addition to the south side of the emergency department and renovate the north side of the same building. It will cost $37 million, with funding coming from the University Hospitals Building Usage Funds.

Under this project, the renovations will create new rooms, including nursing stations, waiting rooms, and pediatric patient rooms. The request cites an increase in demand and crowding as causing delays in patient treatment, something the proposal will likely address.

Additionally, the seventh project included in the request centered around the renovation of 12 stairwells in different buildings of the UIHC campus. According to the request, the project will renovate the floors, guardrails, signage, among others, in Boyd Tower, General Hospital, Roy Carver Pavilion, and John Colloton Pavilion.

“All about the expansion of our services in emergency response and work on behalf of the community,” Lehnertz said. 

The project will cost $2.27 million, funded by University Hospitals Building Usage Funds.

UI to request renovations to Van Allen Hall

The UI’s final approved request was for moving forward with multiple project descriptions. The first of these projects is the 7th-floor renovation of Van Allen Hall, specifically the western portion of the floor for the Department of Physics and Astronomy. 

Expected to cost $7.5 million, the UI aims to have the project funded by the Building Renewal Funds. According to the request, the renovations will involve the addition of fire detection and suppression, new walls and floors, and providing humidity controls and temperature control.

The renovation of Van Allen comes after the UI announced plans to replace the stairs of the building in March to make them more ADA-accessible.

“[Van Allen’s] an important research nad academic building for us on the east side, its a building built in the 60s, and its showing its age, absolutely, but it is nonetheless very important for us, especially as it relates to our space science and space flight hardware work that we do which is renowned nationwide,” Lehnertz said.

Alejandro Rojas contributed to this report.