In 2008 a dramatic 500 year flood devastated a large portion of the Iowa University Art Campus. Balmori Associates’ set out to re-imagine the relationship between the Iowa River and its surrounding landscape where the Arts Campus resides. Balmori's Master Plan for the Arts Campus that provides the river and university with new currents of connectivity, creativity, and environmental performance.
Topographic depressions around the New Hancher Auditorium create spaces that are flexible and configured to embrace the variable character of the river. These depressions are designed to provide public space for large outdoor performances and social events, but also allow for the river to expand during large flood events.
Considering the larger effects of the 2008 flood, Balmori’s strategy can be seen as a prototype for water management, that if replicated on a regional level would be capable of attenuating increased flooding threats brought about by the urbanization of the Iowa River Corridor. Additional areas of water treatment and infiltration serve to collect, clean and permeate storm water on site instead of piping it directly into the river. This decreases water flow and velocity of water in the Iowa River implementing a soft approach to flood prevention, a strategy that becomes a powerful flood management tool when repeated.