The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 3, 2005

Photos: Artists' renderings of the front exterior of the Iowa Memorial Union at night; the IMU terrace; and the interior of the building. Click each picture for a higher-resolution version of the image.

Construction To Begin on Iowa Memorial Union Renovations

Construction on the $9.9 million first phase renovation of the Iowa Memorial Union is set to begin in mid-November, creating a more inviting, functional and attractive union for the university campus.

Construction is expected to last approximately 13 months and be completed in December 2006. The construction will require temporary changes within the building and a lane reduction on a portion of Madison Street for a period of time.

David Grady, assistant vice president and director of University Life Centers, said the Union was first built in 1925, and even though it has been upgraded and renovated several times since it first opened, another update was needed to meet changing student demands of the facility.

"The Iowa Memorial Union is a vital part of the UI campus because in many ways it's the university's front door, the place where the university makes its first impression on potential students, faculty and staff," said Grady. "It is also the place where current students meet, eat, get involved in student organizations, or go to concerts and lectures. To bring the IMU up to student expectations, a major renovation is required."

Grady said the renovation plans were an outcome of the Student Services Master Plan process that was undertaken in 1998 and 1999. Among its findings were that students wanted the building to be more functional and easier to use; that a renovated IMU would see considerably more student usage; that many students, faculty and staff considered IMU renovations a high priority; and that students were willing to finance those improvements with a student fee.

"Students strongly felt that the improvements would build a sense of community, improve the quality of the out-of-class experience and make the campus more user-friendly," said Grady.

The project is being funded through student building fees.

The Phase 1 project will create a new main entrance to the Union from what is currently the Terrace Lobby entrance facing Madison Street on the east side of the building. The Terrace Patio will be filled in with new interior space that will add 13,000 square feet of additional space to the Union.

Other improvements include an updated University Book Store; a new student activity center to provide modern office space for student groups; a spacious new student lounge with media wall and fireplace; and improved access to all floors through a new central stairwell and elevator.

Grady pointed out the renovations will also take greater advantage of the building's close proximity to the Iowa River with the addition of a new riverbank terrace on the west side of the IMU. The river terrace will provide a student gathering space and a venue for small concerts and plays. The river terrace work will be completed in August 2006.

The IMU will remain open throughout the construction, but many rooms and hallways will be temporarily out of service at various times requiring visitors to use alternate routes. Those alternate routes will be well-marked with signs, and students will be available to provide directions, Grady said. In order to help visitors find their way around with a minimal level of confusion during major events and the beginning of the semesters, Grady said staff and students will be stationed at key locations throughout the building to provide directions and whatever additional assistance is needed.

Among temporary changes required by the construction:

--Madison Street, which fronts the IMU on the east side, will be reduced to three lanes between Market and Jefferson from mid-November to May 2006.

--The Terrace entrance off Madison will be out of service from December 2005 until December 2006.

--In mid-November, the University Book Store will move from its current location on the IMU ground floor to the Main Lounge, where it is expected to remain until August 2006.

--The riverbank along the Iowa Memorial Union will be out of use from approximately April 2006 to August 2006.

While some parts of the IMU will be temporarily unavailable during construction, the building and its services will remain open. "We are committed to remaining open during the renovation," said Grady. "The bookstore, food outlets, meeting rooms, offices, Iowa House Hotel and other services will remain open during the renovation. We realize that there may be some inconveniences during the renovation, but we believe the final product will be worth it."

More information and details about the project, including architectural renderings, can be found on the IMU's Web site at

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

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,