University of Iowa Visual Arts Building “Cemented” in History

Posted on Dec 12, 2018 by Awards

On October 15th, 2018, members of the Miron Construction team were thrilled to accept an American Concrete Institute (ACI) Excellence in Concrete Construction award for the University of Iowa Visual Arts Building at an Awards Gala in Las Vegas. The program recognized innovative concrete projects from around the world, from an impressive viaduct in Spain that will carry a high-speed rail line over a river to an underground train station in France with eight prominent, cast-in-place concrete arches.

The Visual Arts Building took first place in the low-rise category. Completed in May 2016, this 126,000-square-foot building incorporated nearly 22,000 tons of concrete. The four-story facility is designed around a central atrium and brings together a diverse array of traditional art disciplines with more digitally-minded photography, 3-D design, graphic design, and video art. It also includes graduate student studios, faculty and staff studios and offices, and gallery space.

The unique design brings natural light into spaces throughout the structure—an important feature for art studios. The building envelope is clad with zinc and stainless steel plate panels, channel glass wall systems, operable windows, and a green roof. The concrete frame construction is supported on drilled pier foundations.

The Visual Arts Building utilizes concrete to the greatest extent of its structural, sustainable, and aesthetic properties. The University required a building that was innovative, sustainable, and adhered to its budget, and the successful execution of concrete construction was instrumental in delivering these requirements. The building’s foundation employs a biaxial (bubble) voided slab, which decreased the amount of material used by 30% in comparison to a typical poured structural slab. This allowed for long spans uninterrupted by columns for generous studio spaces, and generated savings on material, transportation, and labor.

The structural and mechanical systems are truly integrated; it’s the first building in the United States to employ both radiant heating and a bubble slab. The entire concrete structure is exposed and painted white for a clean industrial aesthetic, culminating in a sculptural central atrium for open display of artwork and studio activity of all art disciplines. A benefit of using concrete is the ability to create beautiful curves in the structure; seven curved light courts were cut out of the building shape, and curved handrails and stairs were incorporated.

Congratulations to the members of the project team on your award-winning work!

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