Levitt Center for University Advancement

Levitt Center for University Advancement

Levitt Center for University Advancement

What You'll Find Here

  • Alumni Association
  • Alumni Services
  • Iowa Alumni Magazine
  • I-Club
  • University of Iowa Foundation


1 East Park Road
Formal Name: 
Richard S. and Jeanne S. Levitt Center for University Advancement
Charles Gwathmey of Gwathmey, Siegel, and Associates, New York, New York / Brooks Borg Skiles Architecture Engineering, Des Moines, Iowa

The Levitt Center for University Advancement anchors the northern edge of the Arts Campus. From this vantage point, the site offers impressive views of the Iowa River and the University. Given its outreach-related functions and work that stretches beyond the borders of the campus, the building is well situated near the Dubuque Street exit from Interstate 80. The facility is named for Richard S. and Jeanne S. Levitt, two of the UI’s most generous benefactors, and houses the University of Iowa Foundation and the University of Iowa Alumni Association, the University’s primary fund-raising and alumni relations programs, respectively. Accordingly, the Levitt Center was funded with private gifts. Its outreach mandate is also reflected in the imagery of the building, which declines the guise of academic halls in favor of an aesthetic more attuned to corporate headquarters.
This look was achieved using a combination of limestone and powder-coated white metal panels for the rain-screen form of wall cladding, along with a variety of glazing—including glass block, a trademark of architect Charles Gwathmey. The use of glass adds to the building’s nighttime luster, when the rotunda shines as a lantern to guests approaching the Center and visitors coming to performances at nearby Hancher Auditorium. During the day the solar baffles on the south façade add to the contrast between light and shade. The east- west–oriented main corridor of the rectangular block houses offices on its three middle levels, while level one of the rotunda along with the fourth level of the office block are the showplace locations for meetings, banquets, and other assemblies serving advancement activities for the entire University. The fourth-level rotunda terrace opens from a circular boardroom that crowns the rotunda. The serrated profile of the rectangular office block marks the three adjoining assembly halls from which a projecting external terrace opens up to provide vistas of the Arts Campus and beyond. One of the small twelve-inch-square windows on the fourth level perfectly enframes Frank Gehry’s Iowa Advanced Technology Laboratories building in the distance, as Gwathmey acknowledges. The orientation of the building is the product of a last-minute change: the entire building was rotated 180 degrees on the chosen site late in schematic design. Rather than marking the corner of a street intersection, the rotunda came instead to signal the axial approach to nearby Hancher Auditorium.
From the outside, the curve of the glass-block cylinder recalls the rotundas of Schaeffer and Macbride Halls, but inside it offers a towering, light-filled atrium. Le Corbusier makes his influence felt here, with superimposed pilotis forming the interior wall structure. The graceful ramps and stairs with linear guard rails recall details inspired by a trip Le Corbusier took on the oceanliner Normandie, a ship he referred to as the paragon of the machine and the epitome of the machine aesthetic he later incorporated into many of his buildings. The sinuous quality of the atrium, with both interior balconies and the curve of the stair, reflect that source. The profile of a domeless drum rises above the rotunda. The reference here is to another French architect, the eighteenth-century visionary, Etienne- Louis Boullée, whose idea is best represented in the United States by the nineteenth-century Ohio state capitol. But, in a surprising and perhaps unique design idea, the Levitt Center drum houses an inverted dome, which dramatically covers the boardroom at the top of the rotunda.


The building is accessible to persons with disabilities.

All entrances are accessible to persons with disabilities.
Accessible parking is located south of the building.
All building restrooms are accessible to persons with disabilities.
The elevator is located near the east entrance to the building.