The Visual Arts Building on the University of Iowa campus provides 126,000 square feet of loft-like space for the departments of ceramics, sculpture, metals, photography, print making and 3D multimedia. It also includes graduate student studios, faculty and staff studios and offices, and gallery space.

The façade of the building has an industrial aesthetic with 38,000 square feet of Rheinzink-cladding and poured-in-place concrete walls. The elevations on the southwestern and southeastern sides of the building are covered in custom-designed perforated stainless-steel panels, which pass over the building’s windows to create a dancing light effect as the sun moves throughout the day. Each perforated panel has 1,300 perforated holes using 16 different punch shapes. The pattern repeats across the face of the wall and aligns on the returns on the top and bottom of each panel. In order to achieve the precision necessary for the pattern’s alignment to be exact, 3-D models were created and studied in depth. Custom solutions were born during installation as well to maintain the integrity and aesthetic envisioned by the design team. Behind each of the punched panels lies a zinc curtain wall, creating a double panel system. The skill, attention to detail, and inventiveness of the craftsmen in the field were the driving force behind the successful execution of this project.

To promote connection and communication between the departments housed inside, the building incorporates multiple centers of light through utilization of channel glass, windows and skylights of varying sizes throughout, including one main atrium skylight. The channel glass was pre-fabricated and unitized offsite in a controlled environment in order to keep the radial assemblies clean and to ensure the accuracy and the integrity of the silicone seal within the individual channels.