The wrecking ball began hammering away Monday in the closing act for Hancher Auditorium on the University of Iowa campus. Hancher opened in 1972 on the west side of the Iowa River and was damaged beyond repair in the flooding of 2008.
University of Iowa construction director Rod Lehnerts says this is the final phase of bringing down the building. “Actually, a lot of the work that we see going on right now carries a lot of attention. But the work to demolish the building — which has actually been going on from inside the building for the last four to five months — will not be totally complete until the end of this calendar year,” Lehnerts says.
FEMA provided some $400-million dollars to build replacements for Hancher, and the music and art buildings. “The new Hancher, will open along with the other replacement projects — the art building and school of music — in 2016,” Lehnerts says.
Several spectators — including Del Disselhorst — turned out to watch the crane strike its first blows directly over Hancher’s main entrance. “Well, it’s an emotional thing to see the passing of an era, really. It’s a serious thing,” Disselhorst says. “I was on the organ faculty for 38-years, and was here for the dedication, of course, and hundreds of concerts and programs in between. I have many fond moments of this place, but it is what it is.”
The new 1,800 seat replacement building is now under construction to the northwest of where the old building sits.