Iowa Child Newsletter
A Vision for Iowa’s Future
October 8, 2001
A Fresh Start
On September 10, 2001, the Iowa Child Institute officially announced a fresh start for the world class environmental project and learning facility they plan to construct in Coralville, Iowa. Among the changes announced: a revamped design, a smaller price tag, and a new location that will ultimately put this one-of-a-kind facility in the heart of the Coralville-Iowa City area. Former Iowa Governor Robert Ray called the project a “new vision for Iowa’s future”. Ray, who is chairman of the board of the Iowa Child Institute, added, “By focusing on our environment, creating an inspiring design, and outlining a clear educational philosophy, this project is now in a position to realize its full potential to make Iowa a destination for the world.”
While original plans placed the project on a soybean field on the western edge of Coralville, the city and the members of the Institute now say the project’s new home will lie on 5+ acres of land near the intersection of Interstate 80 and First Avenue in Coralville, along the banks of the Iowa River. Currently considered a Brownfield site by the EPA, the site will be re-developed and cleaned up, promoting the ideals of Iowa Child’s dedication to the environment.
The new site also puts the project in a central Coralville location, and moves it closer to Iowa City and the University of Iowa community. David Oman, vice chairman and chief operating officer of the Institute noted that 55,000 vehicles pass the site daily on Interstate 80 and said, “It offers our project unsurpassed visibility and the opportunity to merge our plans more closely with those of the city of Coralville.”
The blended public-private proposal calls for the environmental learning facility to be located adjacent to the proposed 30,000 square foot Coralville Conference center and exhibit hall, a 200-room hotel, and a parking facility – all of which will be built with potential for expansion. “Iowa Child and the city’s plan mesh very well,” said Kelly Hayworth, Coralville city administrator. “They support each other and make the whole project even better.” After questions and concern over the costs of Iowa Child, the estimated cost for the facility has been dramatically scaled back by over 20 per cent. All totaled, the project will cost an estimated $225 million dollars, significantly less than the original price tag of $293 million.
Among the notable modifications made to the environmental project over the past several months is a fresh interior and exterior design. The 4.6-acre habitat, previously described as an African rainforest with a separate aquarium, will now be a unique structure that will house multiple ecosystems. Among them: an Amazon rainforest and wetlands, galleries on food production and geology, and an aquarium that will be fully integrated into the habitat.
The project’s principal architect, Peter Sollogub of CSP in Boston, MA, said the facility will be built to recapture the 30 million gallons of rainwater that falls on the site annually. The water will be used throughout the structure, as well as for the indigenous landscape and interpretive exhibits that surround the project. In addition, all waste will be recycled, and the land surrounding the area will be transformed from polluted, industrial ground into natural, living eco-systems.
The Iowa Child Institute lists the following as the Top Ten Attributes of their new environmental project:
- Combination of two strong parallel projects – Iowa CHILD and the Exhibit Hall & Conference Center – into one significant, powerful and stronger development with smart use of land.
- Proximity to Iowa River, University of Iowa, University Hospitals and Clinics, local sports and cultural venues, and anchoring for regional attractions from West Branch to Williamsburg.
- Rehabilitation of industrial Brownfield site with federal participation.
- Prominent location along the Iowa River with the creation of vastly improved pedestrian park including hiking trails and indigenous prairie eco-system.
- Potential for innovative, alternate energy solutions (e.g. solar, wind and water).
- Anchor and gateway to the 1st Avenue Beautification Program and catalyst for mixed-use development – the economic leverage sought by the Vision Iowa Program.
- Direct access with excellent line-of-sight visibility from I-80 (55,000 vehicles/day) and close proximity to I-380.
- Potential rail link to Iowa City and future Amtrak service to Chicago.
- Site topography enriches exhibit experience and provides cost savings.
- Opportunity for the greater Iowa City-Coralville community to create a “signature”/icon project that highlights education with 21st century learning environment and links to Iowa schools.
The project team has mapped out a six-year timeline for procuring private and public funding, additional design, construction and opening of the facility. The target date for opening the environmental attraction is Spring, 2007.
Community Advisory Council
Including the Coralville and Iowa City communities in the development of their environmental project has been one of the ultimate goals of the Iowa Child Institute since its inception. That goal finally came to fruition on August 14, 2001, with the creation of the Iowa Child Community Advisory Council. Led by Community Relations Director Sheila Boyd, the Council consists of 15 appointed members that represent varied areas of interest, locality and disciplines to the project.
The Council’s mission is to act as the voice of the community in bringing concerns, issues and interests to the Iowa Child Project. The council meets once every 4 to 6 weeks to discuss issues arising in education, environment and outreach. They advise the Iowa Child Institute staff while acting as liaisons to the constituents as well as to the entire community.
Current members of the Iowa Child Community Advisory Council include:
- Lois Crowley, Iowa City
- Susan Howell, Coralville
- Terrence Neuzil, Iowa City
- Mark Phillips, Iowa City
- Joe Raso, Iowa City
- Mayor Dick Rex, West Branch
- Chris Rohert, Iowa City
- Josh Schamberger, Coralville
- Linda Schrieber, Oxford
- Jill Scholz, Coralville
- Dick Schwab, Solon
- Sharon Thomas, Iowa City
- Neil Trott, Coralville
- Deanna Trumbull, Coralville
Next month, the Community Advisory Council begins the task of assigning a new name to the Iowa Child Institute’s environmental project. Council members plan to have a new name in place in the new year.
Over the next few months, the Iowa Child Institute will host several of the environmental project’s consultants. Each consultant will visit the area for a few days, during which time they’ll meet with the public, the media, and local educational groups, to talk about their role in the Iowa Child project.
The first of these consultants to visit will be James Gerard Doherty. Currently the Vice President of the Wildlife Conservation Society, and General Curator of the Bronx Zoo in New York, Doherty has studied Animal Science and Zoology for nearly 40 years. He is well recognized for his design and development of numerous award-winning animal exhibits at the Bronx Zoo. He has traveled extensively observing wildlife in China, India, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, and has worked as an advisor for TIME/LIFE Books and Films and many animal conservation groups. Doherty will be in Eastern Iowa from October 9-11, 2001.
The next consultants to visit will be from Foiltec Group. They will be in Iowa October 22-24. The Foiltec Group was involved in the Eden Project and has worked on hospitals, malls and aquatic centers throughout the world. Their product has an unparalleled ability to respond to a specific need with an innovative and cost effective solution. The group has been working together for more than twenty years. We will continue to send you updated information of our consultants’ schedules as they arrive.
Iowa Child in the Media
Since our September 10, 2001, conference announcing a fresh start for the Iowa Child Project, the Iowa Child Institute has received a lot of coverage in the media, and we hope to keep our presence in the newspapers, on the radio and on television. Recently David Yepsen, a political columnist for the Des Moines Register, wrote an article promoting the project. You can view that opinion article online at: http://www.dmregister.com/news/stories/c5917686/16075862.html.
June 26, 2002 >| March 14, 2002 >| January 25, 2002 >| December 5, 2001 >
November 1, 2001 >| October 8, 2001 >| August 31, 2001 >
The Institute is a non-profit development group established to further the goals of the environmental learning project. The Board of the Institute includes 18 prominent business, civic and educational leaders.
Iowa Child Board Members
Robert D. Ray, Chairman; Steve Alford; Thomas Aller; Robert Burnett; Richard Canella; Ronald S. Fielder; Jolene Franken; Hayden Fry; B.J. Furgerson; Joe Hladky; Dr. Stanley R. Johnson; Dr. Norm Nielson; David Oman; Merlin Plagge; Robert D. Ray; W. Ward Reynoldson; Richard M. Ryan, Jr.; David J. Skorton; Dr. Thomas J. Switzer; Ted Townsend; Paula Vincent.
Iowa Child Staff
David Oman, Vice Chairman
Jane VanVoorhis, Director of Grant Development
Sheila Boyd, Director of Community Relations
Irv Jensen, Communications Consultant
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