Originally a laboratory component of the College of Medicine, the Biology Building stands on the former site of Close Hall, which had been the University of Iowa’s first gymnasium. The additions of 1965 and 1971, undertaken at the behest of the chairs of zoology, botany, and microbiology to accommodate the University’s growing student population and commitment to the sciences, have been matched by the latest renovation (2004), which encompassed the entire biology complex: Biology Building, Biological Sciences Library, the new Biology Building East, and the provocative Biology Bridge. The project added thirteen state-of-the-art laboratories and upgraded existing laboratories, classrooms, and offices.
Erected three years after the Biological Sciences Library (as the Hall of Anatomy), the Biology Building shares that earlier structure’s Beaux-Arts Classicism, its fondness for Ionic pilasters with swags at the volutes, and its channeled rustication and prominent keystones at the base.
Additions of 1965 and 1971 obscure much of the original structure, but the entrances facing Iowa Avenue and Jefferson Street remain, and, along with them, the building’s detailing. Above the cornice, a crest with the eagle from the University of Iowa seal interrupts the parapet. In the frieze a bas-relief of scientific instruments informs visitors of the building’s use. The calibrated beakers and microscopes refer to its original function as a medical laboratory. In the flanking modernist addition, the repetitious standardized geometry, similar to that of nearby Phillips Hall, architecturally announces the exactitude of scientific procedure, as did the artfully sculpted beakers on the original building.
The north wing of this four-story building was constructed in 1902 and is connected to the more recently constructed south wing. The entire building is fully accessible to persons with disabilities.