With the Iowa River weaving through the heart of campus, making a distinctive east and west side, the University of Iowa campus can feel big—and even a little divided.
But don’t mistake the unique layout for a disconnected community. Each building on campus holds a special place in the UI’s rich 150-year history.
Hawkeyes shared what buildings mean the most to them. Here’s what they said.
The Iowa Memorial Union has been at the center of campus life since it opened in 1925. Now it features study spaces, food options, an esports arcade, a professional clothing closet, and will undergo a major renovation starting in 2024. Throughout the years, it’s also been home to a nonalcoholic nightclub, bowling alley, and billiards.
“Back in the day, I spent a lot of time at the student union...studying, eating, working in the State Room, and listening to John Denver in the Wheel Room.” — Susan Llewellyn
“Iowa Memorial Union. So much time was spent there working with RiverFest and homecoming committees, Intrafraternity Council, and countless hours studying on the third-floor tables. My second home.” — Rich O’Connor (93BBA)
Macbride Hall is not only home to many required classes for first-year students, but it also hosts the Museum of Natural History where community members can see the different stages of Iowa’s natural history through interactive exhibits.
It probably goes without saying that Kinnick is a favorite among many Hawkeyes. There’s nothing like cheering on your favorite team with 70,000 other fans.
“Kinnick. Is there another answer?” — Ed Miska (88BA)
Sure, Calvin Hall is famous for its appearance on Friends (season 10, episode 11). What might be more fascinating, though, is how the UI moved the building in 1901 from the Pentacrest to its current location on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway using giant logs—while class was still in session. Now that’s a feat of engineering.
“Calvin Hall is and will always be my favorite. From 1979 through 1983, I was a UI admissions counselor, and my office was on the southeast corner of Calvin in what was then the Admissions Visitor Center.
My large window faced directly onto the Pentacrest, and over those four years, I visited with scores of eager and hopeful students and parents from all over the Midwest. The beautiful view from that window was probably far more influential in solidifying their decision to come to Iowa City than anything I ever said.”— Jim Graham (79MA)
This quintessential and charming structure in the northwest corner of Hubbard Park holds a special place in many Hawkeye hearts and has been the venue for many Hawkeye weddings.
Built in 1927, The Field House has served as a gathering place on campus for sports and recreation. In its heyday, you could feel the electricity in the room as fans packed into the stands to cheer on the basketball team.
“Back in the day, it’s where we watched men’s basketball, wrestling, swimming, concerts, participated in our own recreation, and I was in Army ROTC. Many fond memories.” — John Kundel (69BA, 74MA)
What would campus be without the Old Capitol—the heart of the Pentacrest?
I absolutely love the sight of the Old Cap as I turn down Iowa Avenue from the west or east. It gives me chills and lets me know I’m home. — Kristin Stack Hale (85BA)
“Definitely the Old Capitol building and the Pentacrest Museums. I took a tour during my freshman year to take a break from studying for second-semester finals. I loved the history of each building, especially the Old Cap. I felt like I was stepping back in time! The Pentacrest Museums felt like the museums in downtown Chicago. It was so neat. A great escape from all of that studying! Must-see spots for students and visitors alike.” — Ashley Martens (10BA)
This list wouldn’t be complete without Iowa’s newest addition. Located between the Main Library and Campus Recreation and Wellness Center, the Stanley gives students access to paintings and sculptures from world-famous artists and brings even more culture to campus.