Gerdin Athletic Learning Center

Gerdin Athletic Learning Center


402 Melrose Avenue
Formal Name: 
Russell and Ann Gerdin Athletic Learning Center
OPN Architects, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

The construction of the Russell and Ann Gerdin Athletic Learning Center, often called just the Athletic Learning Center, was sponsored by a gift from Russell and Ann Gerdin to the University of Iowa Foundation. The Gerdins’ generosity was in response to the NCAA’s Knight Commission Report identifying the need for universities to provide student-athletes with extra encouragement in their pursuit of academic achievement. The Athletic Learning Center, which houses study rooms, classrooms, and a computer lab, was one of the first dedicated buildings of its kind. Student-athletes receive tutoring and observe study hours in this freestanding unit of the Department of Athletics.
Poised at the border of Near West Campus and the Melrose Avenue neighborhood, the building responds to both neighbors, customizing its elevations depending on the direction they face. Composed of brick and stone, the building’s architectural style reflects the nearby residence halls in materials, and the residential homes to the south in design. The mansard roof and dormer windows lend the building an institutional profile, while the gables break up the massing and cultivate a softer, more residential feel. This apparent hybridity is a typical Postmodern option, which allows for multiple and even contradictory references to preexisting local context. Another Postmodern touch is the deliberate violation of convention: the Athletic Learning Center’s limestone rustication appears not just at the foundation but also in two bands running above the first and second-story windows. It even interrupts the two-story, smooth-stone frontispiece of the main entrance.


This building is accessible to individuals with disabilities.

The building entrances are located at the north and south ends of the building. Both are accessible and the north entrance includes a power door opener.
Accessible parking is located near the northwest end of the building.
All restrooms in the facility are accessible to individuals with disabilities.
The elevator is located in the middle of the main corridor of the building.