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Oaknoll Spring Street Senior Living Facility Skywalk


To meet the housing needs of Iowa City’s growing senior population, Oaknoll was adding another facility to its campus, marking the adult retirement facility’s largest expansion project to date. To make room for the 69 new apartments, sports pub, informal dining, and art studio that make up the addition, the new structure would need to be located across the street from the main Oaknoll facility

Knowing that residents would be walking back and forth between the main building – which contains a movie theater, game rooms, a library, and a coffee shop – and the new addition, Oaknoll wanted to find a permanent way to safely connect the two facilities.


To seamlessly connect the adjacent addition to the rest of the facility, Shive-Hattery designed a $1 million glass skywalk that floats above George Street. Using floor-to-ceiling glass provides a safe way for residents to easily access amenities in both buildings year-round while providing them with a visual connection to the outdoors. To maintain clean lines and conceal connections as much as possible in the all-glass skywalk, narrow stainless steel hanger rods were used to hang the floor structure. The skywalk also includes a hanging canopy that suspends from the bottom of the skywalk in front of the new addition.

Because Oaknoll is situated in a residential neighborhood with houses on all sides, Shive-Hattery established a schedule of completion for the skywalk that minimized disruption to pedestrian and vehicular traffic – especially before and after school, when traffic was heaviest. Skywalk material delivery also had to be carefully planned since the site was surrounded on all sides. Steel was delivered in manageable packages, picked directly from trucks via a tower crane to keep neighboring streets open as much as possible.

The steel framing for the 112-foot-long skywalk facilitated a horizontal bend of seven feet, and an elevation change of two feet between the existing Oaknoll facility and the new addition. The skywalk is suspended from upper girders, which supports the weight of the structure and the 100-pounds-per-square-foot live load on the walkway floor.


The glass skywalk is an integral part of connecting Oaknoll’s existing campus and its newest addition to prevent isolation and difficult navigation.

Oaknoll residents now have safe, easy, protected, year-round access to all amenities in the existing main building while enjoying the new amenities featured in the addition. The floor-to-ceiling expanses of glass also give residents the connection to nature they didn’t want to lose as they travel from building to building.
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