Monday, April 15, 2024

The University of Iowa College of Engineering’s IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering is a world-renowned program, and a proposed facility expansion would keep Iowa at the forefront of fluids-related research.

The UI is seeking approval from the Iowa Board of Regents at its April 24-25 meeting to proceed with planning the construction of a new building on the Oakdale campus for future growth and development of the IIHR hydroscience program. 

Map showing location of new IIHR facility

The project would create a larger space for hydraulic model studies for waterways such as canals, large rivers and dams, and spillways. 

The layout would also provide new office space for the Iowa Geological Survey, Iowa Flood Center, and IIHR’s engineering services group, as well as improve the efficiency of research support by bringing physical model studies and shop fabrication areas to the Oakdale campus. 

“This new facility will help Iowa researchers remain at the forefront of research that will help us solve some of the world’s toughest challenges, from dramatic weather change, to flooding in areas plagued by poverty, and environmental pollution,” says Rod Lehnertz, senior vice president for finance and operations. 

The new facility would replace aging and off-campus infrastructure by razing Hydraulic Annex 1, which was built in 1979, and selling the James Street laboratory facility. This will improve access for project sponsors and stakeholder visits, as well as improve shop support services for research already being conducted on the Oakdale campus. 

Hydroscience facilities already housed at the Oakdale campus include the Hydraulics Wave Basin, Hydraulic Annex 2, and Iowa Geological Survey. 

The new facility would be the next step in an accomplished history of hydroscience research at Iowa, which has spanned more than a century. 

Hydroscience research began at Iowa in 1920 in a small building along the Iowa River before the lab moved into the larger, current space about a decade later. Since then, the university has added nine annexes, labs, and shops dedicated to the science and technology of water management. 

One major addition was the Hydraulics Wave Basin Facility. As one of the largest indoor wave basins in the country, it put Iowa at the forefront of ship-design research worldwide. Other milestones include the opening of the Lucille A. Carver Mississippi Riverside Environmental Research Station, the first university-owned research facility on the Mississippi River; and the founding of the Iowa Flood Center after the devastating 2008 floods. 

The preliminary estimated project budget of the new facility is $32 million to $40 million.