University of Iowa

Art and Architecture

Art on Campus

The University of Iowa boasts a compelling collection of public art acquired through the previous Art in State Buildings Program. Funding for Art in State Buildings was generated from ½ of 1% (0.5%) of the state’s portion of total eligible construction costs for new and renovated state buildings. The Art in State Buildings program was repealed by the Iowa legislature effective July 1, 2017. However, the collection of artwork acquired through the program remains as a legacy of the program's enduring impact on Iowans.

Fine examples of this public art grace many locales throughout campus - building entrances and hallways, courtyards and plazas, sports arenas and river's edge. The Art in State Buildings Program was enacted to provide for the inclusion of fine arts in state building construction projects in cooperation with the Iowa Arts Council.

Following the conclusion of the program, the University of Iowa is exploring other options for a campus art program.

View the Art on Campus website and photo gallery for more information

Scheaffer Hall Column

Campus Architecture

The University of Iowa campus has several distinctive characteristics that have long been cherished by those who experience them. Today's challenge is to plan for continued growth, while simultaneously securing and enhancing important landmarks and symbols.

Award-Winning Buildings


A few highlights of Campus Architecture

East Campus

Home to the Old Capitol, the East Campus represents the original and symbolic core of the University of Iowa. The limestone architecture of the Pentacrest turns toward brick as buildings move farther away from the core. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Tippie College of Business, and university administration occupy many of the structures in this “undergraduate” section of the campus. The East Campus flows to the Iowa River valley, 70 feet below the Pentacrest.

The Pentacrest

The Pentacrest should be recognized and protected as the most significant character-defining feature of the campus plan. It is the historic heart of the University and the central focal point of the main campus. It is the location of five major campus buildings: Old Capitol, Schaeffer Hall, MacLean Hall, Macbride Hall, and Jessup Hall.

Historic Old Capitol

The Old Capitol reopened to the public May 6, 2006. It is estimated that 40,000 people will tour Old Capitol every year. In addition, many University functions are held within its limestone walls, and the Senate Chamber is a popular site for doctoral dissertation defenses.

Arts Campus

The Arts Campus was initiated on the banks of the Iowa River more than 70 years ago and has become an environment rich with notable modern architecture set against attractive 1930s brick buildings. It was here that internationally renowned architecture was introduced to the university. This trend continues today with remarkable modern architecture like the Levitt Center (1998) and Art Building West (2006).

For more information on campus architecture, refer to the book The University of Iowa Guide to Campus Architecture, by John Beldon Scott & Rodney P. Lehnertz, 2006.