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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 14, 2010

World-renowned architectural firm Pelli Clarke Pelli to design new Hancher

Progress toward building a new Hancher facility has taken a significant step forward with the University of Iowa’s recent selection of world-renowned Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects to design the building. The selection has been reviewed and approved by the Office of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.

Pelli Clarke Pelli, based in New Haven, Conn., was founded in 1977 and is led by architectural legend César Pelli and his longtime partner Fred Clarke. The firm has designed many of the world’s tallest and most recognizable buildings, including the World Financial Center in New York, which surrounds the space where the World Trade Center once stood; the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and the International Finance Centre in Hong Kong.

The firm’s portfolio also includes academic buildings, libraries, performing arts centers, museums and research centers. Its arts center projects include the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Charlotte, N.C.; Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Miami; DePaul Theatre School, Chicago; Weber Music Hall, University of Minnesota, Duluth; and Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, Grinnell College. An online portfolio of Pelli Clarke Pelli’s performing arts work may be found at

UI President Sally Mason said she anticipates seeing great things from Pelli Clarke Pelli as the final design for a new Hancher takes shape.

"In partnering with Pelli Clarke Pelli to lead the design of a new Hancher Auditorium, we have set in motion an exciting process that will result in the creation of an iconic, 21st century performing arts center that will serve Iowans for generations to come," Mason said. "César Pelli is a giant in the architectural community, and we are proud to have his talents shaping such an important building for the University of Iowa."

A native of Argentina, former dean of the Yale University School of Architecture and founder of Pelli Clarke Pelli, César Pelli is known for designing some of the world's tallest buildings and other major urban landmarks. His designs are recognizable with their curved facades and metallic elements. In 1991, the American Institute of Architects listed him among the 10 most influential living American Architects (AIA). His many awards include the 1995 AIA Gold Medal, which recognizes a body of work of lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture.

Fred Clarke, a founding member of the firm, is a Design Principal for all the New Haven studio projects. Over the past 33 years, he has been responsible for commissions with widely varied programs and locations, from San Francisco to Dubai, from Tokyo to Miami. His project experience includes serving as Design Principal for the Petronas Towers, the World Financial Center in New York, One Canada Square at Canary Wharf in London, Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower in Tokyo, and the International Finance Centre in Hong Kong.

Hancher Executive Director Chuck Swanson, who was involved in the decision to select Pelli Clarke Pelli, praised both the architectural firm and the process used to make the selection.

"The Hancher staff and all of our supporters are excited about this major step forward for the rebuilding of Hancher," Swanson said. "The university process for selecting Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects was inclusive, collegial, and in the end very satisfying. I really believe this is a great day for the university and the state of Iowa."

Pelli Clarke Pelli was selected from among 59 nationally and internationally recognized architectural firms who submitted proposals to rebuild the UI’s performing arts center. UI officials conducted on-campus interviews Sept. 10 with four finalists, all known for their experience in performing arts centers and creative contemporary architecture. The finalists, in addition to the winning submitter, were William Rawn Associates, Boston; Snøhetta, Oslo, Norway and New York; and Trahan Architects, Baton Rouge, La.

In addition to UI officials, members of the selection team included OPN Architects from Cedar Rapids, the Iowa-based architect of record; construction manager M.A. Mortenson of Minneapolis; and representatives of Iowa Homeland Security.

With the selection of the architect, the newly formed design team will begin working with UI planning staff on site and program studies. Based on current projections, the completed design for Hancher will be bid in spring 2012, and the project will be completed in spring 2015.

Hancher, part of the Hancher-Voxman-Clapp complex, was one of 22 major UI buildings flooded in June 2008. The complex was damaged to a level that led the Federal Emergency Management Agency to designate it eligible for replacement, which means FEMA will fund 90 percent of all eligible replacement costs.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Moore, 319-356-3945, Writer: Stephen Pradarelli, 319-384-0007,