Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Welcome to this very special—and very exciting—gathering as we share with you our progress and plans for the UI’s campus renewal.

This evening is a milestone event. The traditional meaning of “milestone” refers to a real object, a literal stone pillar that shows the distance to or from a place. What’s especially exciting about tonight is that we are not just sharing milestone information, but we are able to show you something real—something you can touch, see, smell, and even hear—something you can experience—that shows how our campus renewal is no longer a concept or an idea but a reality.

That special something is this building we are in—Art Building West. This award-winning campus landmark is open for business. Students are already taking classes here, the art library is humming with activity, and faculty are pursuing their scholarship and creativity in the visual arts here once again. I know you will be impressed and inspired by the tour at the end of this evening’s program. You will be reminded all over again why this building has won so many major architectural awards, and why its designer Steven Holl was recently announced as the 2012 winner of the American Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal. This is the highest honor that an individual architect can receive from the AIA, and Mr. Holl now joins such renowned company as I. M. Pei and Frank Lloyd Wright.

As we celebrate our present success tonight, we also look to the future. I know you are eager to hear our plans and see our designs. We have a series of presentations that will detail the impact the 2008 flood has had on our programs and the visions for the future that will propel those programs into the forefront of the 21st century. With more definite FEMA commitments in place, we can move forward more confidently on our timelines and our designs.

You will see how we plan to re-energize student life on campus as we refurbish and redesign the ground floor of the Iowa Memorial Union. You will see how the Voxman Music Building and Clapp Recital Hall will bring more architectural, educational, and performance vitality to our downtown. You will see how the brilliance of Steven Holl will extend the magic of Art Building West to its companion art building. And you will see how the visionary Pelli Clarke Pelli is helping us create a cutting-edge future for the performing arts in the new Hancher Auditorium.

The arts and culture have been central to the legacy and character of the UI for many, many decades. As we embark on this very exciting phase of our renewed campus, we know we must provide the best and most visionary facilities to bring our storied arts programs into the 21st century. I do want to remind you, though, that even as we work on building their new physical homes, our music, theater, dance, visual arts, and Hancher Auditorium programs continue their excellence in teaching, research, and creative endeavor right now, both on campus and in other venues throughout the Corridor.

As we launch into sharing our plans with you, I also want to thank everyone involved with our campus renewal: All the faculty, staff, and students who have shown their dedication to our institution in these recent years since the flood, and who have shared their enthusiasm and vision as we design our bright future. Our design and construction partners, who are collaborating with us in defining creativity at the university for a worldwide audience. Our public officials, who have been crucial partners in so many areas—in integrating our plans with the city; in navigating the world of FEMA and many other government agencies; and in helping us provide the best for the people of Iowa now and in the future. And our private citizens, supporters, and donors, who continue to attend our arts programs and contribute to our current and future needs. Your constancy, generosity, and commitment are crucial to our continued success, both today and tomorrow.

Thank you again for coming. I know you will leave us this evening with renewed excitement for the university’s future.