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University of Iowa to film demolition of Hancher

Jul 09, 2013

IOWA CITY (AP) — The University of Iowa will shoot a documentary on the demolition of its flood-damaged Hancher Auditorium as officials work to make sure the school gets federal funding to replace the historic building.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is paying for the building's replacement, requires the documentary as part of a preservation law that aims to mitigate the loss of tearing down a historic building, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported.

The film is expected to chronicle the past, present and future of the building. Rod Lehnertz, UI's director of planning, design and construction, said the documentary will probably be completed around February 2015. The school will likely hold public viewings of the film and make it available for purchase.

“There are times in a history of a campus where it's important to document both our history, where we are and where we're headed,” he said. “Given the significant changes that are coming to the art campus, it's an important time to reflect and an important time to capture where we're headed.”

The Hancher Auditorium, originally opened in 1972 as part of the Hancher-Voxman-Clapp complex, has a $176 million price tag to replace it. The film has been budgeted to cost FEMA $200,000.

The school's Center for Media Production has been collecting historical photographs and shooting videos around the building, but the university hasn't decided whether it will hire an outside firm to make the film.

The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 has a series of requirements for such a film, including rules about the length and content. The documentary is one of nearly 40 so-called Memorandum of Agreements since the 2008 flood. It's agreements between FEMA and various parties on ways to salvage historic features from a building or monument.


"The whole idea being that these historic properties have a lot of meaning and value," said Barb Sturner, a FEMA external affairs specialist based in Kansas City. "From a federal standpoint, we don't want to just get rid of stuff. We don't want to lose our treasures without helping to benefit the system overall in another way."

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