The Iowa River is an indelible part of the University of Iowa campus. It is a tributary of the Mississippi River and is approximately 323 miles long. The Iowa River has flooded the UI campus on several occasions. Most recently in 2008, flooding affected twenty buildings on the UI campus, including the Iowa Memorial Union.

Two Works Progress Administration (WPA) projects have a connection to campus and the Iowa River. The Lagoon Shelter House is a small riverside structure that sat adjacent to the University Skating Lagoon. The small interior housed a concession where skaters could buy candy and coffee. Two exterior fireplaces provided warmth for skaters. During the two seasons the Lagoon Shelter House served its original function (1941), there was an annual ice carnival. Owing to the unpredictability of the weather, the ice skating facility was not cost effective and was converted to a canoe house for the Department of Physical Education. The structure is now informally known as the Canoe House.

The second WPA project tied to the Iowa River is the IMU Footbridge. The footbridge, alternately known as the Fine Arts Bridge, was constructed in 1934 with funds provided by the WPA. By the early 1930s, the campus expanded substantially west of the river, including the university’s new fine arts complex, the College of Medicine, and what would later become one of the nation’s largest public teaching hospitals. To accommodate this growth, university president Walter Jessup envisioned a footbridge to link the original campus with the new.

Generations of Hawkeyes have enjoyed walking along the river, taking in the beautiful scenery, and benefiting from all the river has provided to the campus community. 

Capacity by setup

  • Classroom: 24*


  • Computer
  • Ethernet connection
  • Projector screen
  • Speakers
  • Markerboard
  • Wifi


  • UI Student organization events: $0
  • UI departmental events: $0
  • General public events: $150
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* denotes a room's standard setup. Minimum setup change fee: $40.