Sciences Library

Sciences Library

What You'll Find Here

  • Sciences Library
  • Classrooms
Abbreviation: 
SL
Number: 
0019
Address: 
120 East Iowa Avenue
Formal Name: 
Sciences Library
Year: 
1902
Architect: 
Proudfoot and Bird, Des Moines, Iowa
Historical: 

When the Medical Department was still located on the Iowa Avenue Campus, this building was an anatomical theater. The entire second floor was taken up with this function. Medical students sat in semicircular bleachers, with the instructor and cadaver in the arena below. Only the second Beaux-Arts style structure, after Schaeffer Hall, to be erected on the UI campus, the building indicates an intention to establish that architectural style as the dominant aesthetic of the campus, not only on the Pentacrest but also beyond. The continuation of the Ionic order also reflects Schaeffer.

Reprogrammed as the Biological Sciences Library in 1999, the building was originally conceived as the center of a larger complex that would form a court, but of that plan only the Biology Building on Jefferson Street was ever built. The rear wall of the building is canted from both corners so that the semicircular raised seating of the anatomical theater is expressed on the exterior. Decorative elements, such as the use of quoins to extend the channeled rustication of the base upward, become more expressive as they rise. At the broad entrance bay, pairs of flanking Ionic pilasters on the second and third levels give distinction to the cubelike edifice, and floral swags swing from the volutes of the capitals. The library’s most ornate touch, a palmette above the cornice, crowns this diminutive building neatly tucked away near the heart of campus. The open area in front has now been redeveloped as a peaceful enclave adjacent to the bustle of downtown Iowa City.