Architecture in Iowa
Architecture in Iowa
Among Iowa’s hidden gems are stunning buildings designed by some of the world’s best-known architects. Here’s just a sample of Iowa’s rich architectural history that’s sure to wow you.
WORLD FOOD PRIZE BUILDING
Des Moines: Talk about breathtaking. Built along the Des Moines River, the former home of the Des Moines Public Library was completed in 1903 and was the first building approved for construction along the riverfront. This site is now home to the World Food Prize organization.
HISTORIC PARK INN HOTEL
Mason City: Know what’s the last remaining hotel in the world designed by Frank Lloyd Wright? You got it. The Historic Park Inn Hotel. Finished in 1910, a complete renovation including restoration of the distinctive brick and terra-cotta façade as well as art glass windows was completed in 2011.
HENRY C. ADAMS BUILDING
Algona: Local businessman Harry C. Adams commissioned Louis Sullivan to design and build this beautiful “jewel box” bank in 1913. One of only eight buildings in the Midwest with that pedigree, it now houses the Algona Chamber of Commerce.Its stained glass windows are truly a sight to behold.
MERCHANTS NATIONAL BANK
Grinnell: Another gorgeous design by Louis Sullivan, Merchants National Bank was constructed in 1914. This simple cubical-plan structure is one of the best examples of the jewel box banks designed by Sullivan late in his career. Today, the restored building houses the Grinnell Chamber of Commerce.
VAN ALLEN AND COMPANY DEPARTMENT STORE
Clinton: This four-story building from 1915 is the only small retail building that Louis Sullivan designed. Now a designated National Historic Landmark, it was painstakingly restored into apartments and also includes ground-floor businesses that are open to the public.
WOODBURY COUNTY COURTHOUSE
Sioux City: Designed by William Steele and built in 1918, this courthouse is the largest publicly owned Prairie Style building in the world. Named a National Historic Landmark in 1996, the structure is adorned with thousands of colorful tiles and is topped by a stained glass dome. Courtrooms still contain original architect-designed furniture and lighting fixtures.
Des Moines: Modeled after the King’s House in Salisbury, England, this American castle was built for Carl and Edith Weeks between 1923 and 1928. The mansion contains authentic 16th century English oak and rafters that date back to the time of Shakespeare. It’s filled with original furnishings and rare objects including art, paintings, tapestries and books that belonged to the Weeks family.
DES MOINES ART CENTER
Des Moines: Three renowned architects contributed to the Art Center’s celebrated design. Eliel Saarinen designed the first portion of the museum (which has remained virtually intact since its opening in 1948). I.M. Pei designed the concrete addition in 1968. And Richard Meier won a competition held in the early 1980s to design a second addition to the museum.
Independence: Situated on a wooded hill overlooking the Wapsipinicon River, this Usonian home was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for Lowell and Agnes Walter. Completed in 1950, Wright also designed the entry gate, an outdoor fire circle and two-level boathouse on the site.
C.Y. STEPHENS AUDITORIUM
Ames: Built in 1969 by architects Crites & McConnell and Brooks-Borg & Skiles, C.Y. Stephens Auditorium is acclaimed for its excellent acoustics and sight lines from every one of the 2,700 seats. The facility was named the Building of the 20th Century by the Association of Architects, Iowa Chapter.
FIGGE ART MUSEUM
Davenport: Designed by British architect David Chipperfield, the glass building near the Mississippi River was completed in 2005. An outdoor plaza provides for a sculpture garden and public gathering space, connecting the Figge visually with other cultural attractions in the downtown.
CENTRAL PUBLIC LIBRARY
Des Moines: Another showstopper by architect David Chipperfield, the central branch of the Des Moines Library was completed in 2006. The modern, monolithic structure is wrapped in a shimmering high-tech copper skin and sits on the western edge of downtown Des Moines.