Des Moines Dialogue by Substance Architecture

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Substance Architecture's pavilion and pump stations are part of Des Moines' Principal Riverwalk development. (Paul Crosby)

Substance Architecture’s pavilion and pump stations are part of Des Moines’ Principal Riverwalk development. (Paul Crosby)

Zinc and glass unite riverfront pavilion and pump house.

In 2009, just as construction on its Principal Riverwalk pavilion was about to begin—and following years of funding-related stops and starts—Des Moines-based Substance Architecture received some unexpected news. The firm was commissioned to design a second building, a pump house, on an abutting plaza. At that point, recalled Substance’s Paul Mankins, it had been about three years since the firm started work on the pavilion. “There was some discussion in the office about whether the pump house should be an independent piece, or whether it should be formally related to the pavilion,” he said. “Our decision was that the pavilion would be stronger if it had this piece as a foil.” Using a limited material palette of zinc and glass accented by Jun Kaneko‘s artwork, Substance succeeded in creating a dialogue between the two small riverfront buildings, despite their differing programs and dates of origin.

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Shelter Subterfuge by ASK Studio

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Giovanettii Community Shelter's glass and cedar facade belies its function as a FEMA safe room. (Cameron Campbell, Integrated Studio)

Giovanettii Community Shelter’s glass and cedar facade belies its function as a FEMA safe room. (Cameron Campbell, Integrated Studio)

Architectural sleight of hand transforms a FEMA safe room from bunker to glass box.

Tasked with designing a community center on a shoestring budget, Des Moines–based ASK Studio was unsure how to fit the program to the project’s finances. Then an attendee at a community feedback session suggested applying for FEMA funds to build a combination community room and storm shelter. The FEMA tie-in solved the money problem, but it created an aesthetic challenge. The architects had originally diagrammed the community center, sited atop a central knoll in a large park in Urbandale, Iowa, as a connection point that would orient visitors without obstructing views. When the project was redefined as a safe room, said ASK’s Brent Schipper, “I just cringed, because how do you have a transparent node that’s also a tornado shelter? I thought, ‘We’re going to make a bunker, and pretend it works as the node of the centerpiece of the park.'” Luckily, Schipper’s gut reaction proved wrong. A triumph of architectural sleight of hand, ASK’s Giovannetti Community Shelter is built evidence that “welcoming safe room” is not an oxymoron.

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Eavesdrop> Renzo Piano to deliver high design with a low-minded name in Des Moines

(Montage by AN)

(Montage by AN)

Downtown Des Moines, Iowa, courted an all-star list of architecture firms for a new $92 million corporate headquarters that has the unfortunate baggage of being helmed by the world’s most cringe-inducingly named and spelled convenience store chain, Kum & Go.

Continue reading after the jump.

Iowa Landscape Architecture Students Bring a Touch of Green Behind Bars

City Terrain, Midwest
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
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Outdoor classrooms under construction at the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women. (Landscape Architecture Magazine / Bob Elbert)

Outdoor classrooms under construction at the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women. (Landscape Architecture Magazine / Bob Elbert)

Thanks to a new student-led effort, green is no longer just the color of the year, it’s also the new orange. When the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville embarked on a $68 million expansion three years ago, the plan set aside no money for landscape design. But a collaboration between five landscape architecture students from Iowa State University and eight offenders is bringing a touch of green behind bars.

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LMN Architects’ Collaborative Sound Cloud

Fabrikator
Friday, May 17, 2013
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LMN Architects designed a high-performing ceiling canopy that unifies the many features of traditional theatrical and acoustic systems. (courtesy LMN Architects)

LMN Architects designed a high-performing ceiling canopy that unifies the many features of traditional theatrical and acoustic systems. (courtesy LMN Architects)

A system of 946 unique panels will produce optimal acoustics and aesthetics at the University of Iowa’s new School of Music.

For a 700-seat concert hall at the new School of Music at the University of Iowa, Seattle-based LMN Architects wanted to design a high-performing ceiling canopy that would unify the many features of traditional theatrical and acoustic systems. The result is a 150-foot-long by 70-foot-wide surface composed of 946 suspended, intricately laced panels that incorporate complex, interdependent, and at times conflicting systems—including lighting, theatrics, speakers, sprinklers, and acoustical functionality—in a unified architectural gesture.

“The system is sculptural for sure, but it had to conceal structural truss work, which was a major cost savings as opposed to building an acoustic container,” said Stephen Van Dyck, a principal at LMN Architects. The design team worked with both parametric digital and physical models to coordinate the structural system with the acoustic, theatrical, audio/visual, lighting, fire, and material elements of the canopy. “From Day One, it was a digital model,” he said. “We needed a smaller physical model to get everyone’s head around making this happen physically. A three-foot room model has a big impact on ability to conceive.” LMN fabricated the scale model, as well as a few full-sized components, on the firm’s 3-axis CNC mill. Read More

Wright Room Service

Midwest
Monday, August 10, 2009
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(courtesy Wright on the Park)

A non-profit group in Mason City, Iowa is restoring the last remaining Frank Lloyd Wright designed hotel, according to the AP. Completed in 1910, the Park Inn Hotel complex also includes a bank branch and a small office building. It had previously been used as a hotel, apartments, and a strip club. Read More

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