Hancher Auditorium

Iowa City, Iowa

185,000 GSF

Alvine Engineering engaged with architect Pelli Clarke Pelli during the earliest programming and conceptual design stages to integrate the building systems with the building’s unique architecture while supporting the varied needs of a performance space. This new facility replaces the original flood-damaged Hancher building. Now, the new Hancher Auditorium is placed at seven feet above the 500-year flood level. The auditorium includes a large 1,900-seat, multi-purpose proscenium theater, front-of-house and back-of-house support spaces, rehearsal room, and administrative offices. The School of Music program space, including the scene shop, costume shop, recording studio, and performing arts production offices were included in the replacement building.

The design completely isolates the auditorium structure from the rest of the building to ensure the ideal acoustics required for a state-of-the-art facility.


  • LEED Gold.
  • Coordinated modeling was used to ensure mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and technology devices were placed in discreet or unseen locations to preserve the iconic architecture.
  • Use of in-slab heating systems on the floors adjacent to the exterior glazing systems to offset chilled or radiant cooling.
  • The main performance hall is served by multiple zones of underfloor displacement ventilation systems to allow custom coverage and increase energy efficiency for smaller audiences.
  • The HVAC system design includes multiple air handling units to provide optimal energy efficiency in areas that are not being utilized.
  • Building material selection gave careful consideration to withstanding humidity and temperature changes. The selected materials also optimized energy savings.
  • The liberal use of horizontally and vertically curved surfaces required cutting-edge Revit customization to ensure accurate collaboration.

Learn more about projects similar to the Hancher Auditorium by viewing our performing arts portfolio.

Photography credit: Main Street Studio

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