The University of Iowa is seeking permission from the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, to move forward with several facilities projects that will improve student outcomes, create state-of-the art research space, and increase health care access for Iowans, including patients with the most complex cases.
The Board of Regents will vote on the requests at the April 19 meeting. The projects are part of the university’s 10-year facilities master plan and, if approved, construction could begin as early as May.
“New buildings and extensive remodeling of existing structures on both the east and west sides of campus will advance the success of our teaching, research, and health care missions,” says Rod Lehnertz, senior vice president for finance and operations. “It’s an exciting time as projects that are part of our 10-year facilities master plan begin to take shape.”
Budget approval requests
The university is seeking budget approval for these four projects:
West Campus Parking Ramp north of Kinnick Stadium (Lot 43): $75 million
This project will construct a 985-space, five-level parking ramp on a portion of Parking Lot 43 north of Kinnick Stadium and skywalk connecting to the existing skywalk system. The construction of this ramp will replace the aging Hospital Ramp 1, which will be torn down to make way for the future hospital inpatient tower. While this ramp is an important component of the enabling projects for the new hospital tower, it and other projects in the area will cause periodic parking and transportation challenges on the west side of campus for the next two years.
“Our parking and transportation department has been working closely with UI Hospitals & Clinics to put together a reassignment plan for the parking challenges ahead,” says Lehnertz. “We ask for the patience of those who park in the area as we execute these important west campus projects that will benefit not only our faculty, staff, and students, but the lives of Iowans who seek care at our facilities.”
UI Hospitals & Clinics Emergency Department expansion: $37 million
The increasing demand and crowding of the Emergency Department is fueled by rapidly growing numbers of ED visits combined with declining numbers of ED facilities in the community. This project will create a two-level addition on the south side of the Emergency Department and renovate a portion of the existing department. The project will create additional space to meet the needs of the Behavior Health Emergency Department and the renovation will convert and upgrade space for more pediatric patient rooms and pediatric behavioral health rooms, among other needs.
Renovation of the seventh floor of Van Allen Hall: $7.5 million
This project will bring together several space physics research areas that are currently located throughout the building into one consolidated location on the seventh floor of Van Allen Hall. The space will be outfitted with climate control technology necessary to support the sensitive electronics and manufacturing work the department does for NASA and will provide room to expand the research taking place in this program.
“This project will provide collaboration space for our space physics researchers and will enable them to take their work to the next level,” says Lehnertz. “This investment in our original 1964 building also will provide the laboratory technology necessary to secure even more contracts and partnerships with NASA.”
The Department of Physics and Astronomy has secured millions of dollars in NASA contracts over the past five years. In 2019, an Iowa team won a $115 million contract award from NASA to study the interactions between the magnetic fields of the sun and Earth. The award was the largest single award in UI history.
Renovation at the Medical Laboratories Building for pediatric research: $7.8 million
The Medical Laboratories Building and Medical Research Center were built in 1927 and 1957, respectively. While portions of both buildings have been renovated in the past, areas of the buildings have physical deficiencies that negatively affect the university’s ability to conduct ongoing research and to compete for funding and contracts for future research endeavors. Some of the renovated space will be devoted to the Department of Pediatrics research related to diseases such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, and diabetes.
Permission to proceed with planning
The university is seeking permission to proceed with planning for these two key projects:
Stead Family Children’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) fit-out and expansion on the seventh floor and connecting bridge from Stead to the John Pappajohn Pavilion. This project will address the pressing need for additional NICU capacity. The expanded NICU space will consist of 28 patient rooms, as well as the supportive rooms, spaces, and infrastructure needed for operational support of the NICU function. Total estimated cost of the project is $41 million.
Sixth floor fit-out of new the Pharmacy Building and renovation of floors three, four, and five of the former Pharmacy Building for university and economic development-related wet lab research space. The university is partnering with the state of Iowa to create biosciences infrastructure and medical innovation laboratories to support health care innovators from across the state, ultimately creating the Medical Innovation Center. Total cost of the project is $12 million to $13 million.
“This project will establish state-of-the-art research space to enable our faculty, staff, and students to support the growth of drug discovery and biomedical research,” says Lehnertz. “Ultimately, this project will benefit the health care needs of Iowans and the boost the statewide economy.”