a brick building with a corner office and windows, a plant with yellow flowers sits outside and a sign reads 'Public Policy Research Building' on the wall

Public Policy Research Building Opens on East Side of Campus

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The Public Policy Center (PPC) is happy to announce its move to the newly renovated Public Policy Research Building (PPRB). The east campus location, formerly Pediatric Associates, is located at 605 E Jefferson St., just southeast of Mercy Hospital. Photos of PPRB can be found at the bottom of this story.

The PPRB houses all units of the PPC, including the Iowa Social Science Research Center (ISRC), in one space. PPC Director, and Bernstein Professor, Pete Damiano explained that as a unit of the Office of the Vice President for Research, the PPC has a campus-wide mission related to policy-relevant research, engagement, teaching, and research support. He believes that being together in the new location will add to the vitality of the PPC's missions and goals to further develop research and engagement activities this year.

"Previously, the research side was in South Quad, and the research development side was in the Jefferson Building downtown," Damiano said. "It was harder from an administrative perspective, but also from a collaboration perspective in terms of getting research going and being able to help support the development of research for faculty, staff, and students."

The plan to relocate to a new, shared space was in the works for more than 10 years, with the university and the PPC considering numerous locations. In 2017, University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics (UIHC) purchased the Pediatric Associates practice and relocated it to the UIHC facility on North Dodge Street. After seeing the building and its potential, the decision was made to renovate the red brick building on East Jefferson Street for the PPC and the ISRC.

A terrific team of people from UI Facilities Management, plus external contractors, converted the building into the Public Policy Research Building (PPRB) over 18 months. The PPRB boasts 26 private offices, several swing spaces, two break rooms, a conference room, and a larger meeting/classroom style space. The upstairs conference room, the David and Dorie Forkenbrock Conference Room, is dedicated to David J. Forkenbrock, founder of the PPC, and Dorie, his wife, who has remained a strong supporter of the missions and activities of the center. The PPRB also features a student lab with open workstations for both undergraduate and graduate students, as well as a call center and transcription room for the ISRC's surveying processes.

"Being in a newly renovated building also gives us a renewed sense of vitality and a fresh start," Damiano said. "What I've found so far is that it really seems to re-energize people and get them excited, and it just feels like it's something new and fresh, which is great."

The east side location allows for better collaboration with faculty and the high number of students on this side of campus, especially with those in policy-relevant social science disciplines. The walkability of the new location is significantly improved, with downtown Iowa City accessible in five minutes on foot.

The building, with a cool-toned and modern interior, was personalized with art from the UI Thesis Gallery, featuring pieces by Karen Ganz, Ann Finholt, and more. An onsite parking lot provides permit space for PPRB residents and metered spaces for visitors, which aims to encourage more in-person collaboration at the center.

The PPC hosted an Open House on Oct. 4, with remarks from UI President Barbara Wilson and the official dedication of the Forkenbrock Conference Room to David and Dorie Forkenbrock. 

UI President Barbara Wilson, PPC Director Pete Damiano, and VPR Marty Scholtz pose in front of the Public Policy Research Building
UI President Barbara Wilson and Vice President for Research Marty Scholtz were in attendance at the Open House.
a conference room with a large table and chairs around it, a large tv, and a plaque in the corner of the wall reading "Public Policy Center"
The David and Dorie Forkenbrock Conference Room
open classroom style meeting space with multiple tables and chairs around them
The Lower Level Meeting Room
hallway at PPRB where you can see mini whiteboards outside of the offices and three pieces of art hung on the wall
Art is on display around PPRB, courtesy of the UI Thesis Gallery.
Dorie Forkenbrock and Pete Damiano hanging a sign that dedicates the PPRB conference room to David and Dorie Forkenbrock
Pete Damiano officially dedicates the Upper Level Conference Room to David and Dorie Forkenbrock, hanging the plaque with Dorie.
Mark Berg and John Zielke, discussing with a member of the Johnson County Sheriff's office. They are standing across from one another in a room with a table and chair and a TV displaying the news
Crime and Justice director Mark Berg and fellow of practice John Zielke chat with Johnson County Sheriff Brad Kunkel at the Open House.