Old Town Sevastepol is an urban neighborhood with a faded identity. At one time it was a community with a centered on a vibrant neighborhood commercial street that supported several blocks of surrounding single family residences. The primary industry of the area was coal mining, but it is a short trip downtown for work as well.
Over time, the storefronts have been infilled for office or residential uses and now several buildings on the commercial block are unused and falling into disrepair. The anchor or the street, B&B Grocery, has maintained it’s place in the community over several generations. Originally it was one of many functioning shops, but now is an island on a widened, busy and not pedestrian friendly SE 6th Street.
The Neighborhood Development Corporation seeks to build up the urban neighborhoods of Des Moines by invigorating the neighborhood pedestrian commercial properties and inserting quality residential opportunities. This project will be mixed-use at a modest scale in order to tie in cohesively to the existing commercial buildings of first floor storefront and second floor residential. We will insert pedestrian corridors that make the neighborhood more walkable and connect green spaces.
The goal is to provide a spark to the commercial corridor by punctuating it with a strong and active node. The test of success lies beyond the leasing of this building to the point in the near future where the storefronts down the street begin opening up again with the next generation of shops.
The project is currently under construction and we will have updates on design and construction on the blog and twitter. Also follow the project at the NDC facebook page.
The Fleming Building is an 11 story office building located on 6th & Walnut in downtown Des Moines. The building was designed by the nationally renowned architectural firm of D. H. Burnham & Company and construction was completed in 1907. The building’s main function for the last 100 years has been office space with some retail/restaurant space on the ground floor.
In the last 5 years the market for residential apartments in downtown Des Moines has grown strong and with the assistance of state & federal historic tax credits the rehabilitation of these old buildings has become feasible to developers. When construction is complete floors 3 thru 11 will be converted into market rate apartments while floors 1 & 2 will remain commercial/office space. The building’s mechanical, electrical, sprinklers, fire alarm, windows, and plumbing systems will have all been replaced.
Since this is a Burnham & Company building it was very important to preserve the historical fabric that was still intact from years of interior remodels, however the developer and Slingshot Architecture wanted the apartments to have a contemporary & compact design. The residential units will have all the amenities as a typical apartment but the square footage will be smaller which means lower monthly rent for the tenant but more units to rent out for the property manager. Anyone local to Des Moines may have seen the developer, Mike Nelson, speak last week at TEDx Des Moines City 2.0 about these strategies that we analyzed and implemented together.
We are looking forward to the building completion in March 2013 and letting people see the mesh of historic and new life that has been put back into this “Chicago School” inspired building.
Waukee’s Public Library is gaining a special place. A gift from a former Waukee resident, Hiram Ori, the Coal Mine Meeting Room and museum will tell a story which many residents do not know. The Schuler Coal Mine, located just 2 miles northeast of Waukee, was once a community of 450 people and more than 30 mules. The Ori family grew up in this community off Alice’s Road and wanted to create a place for the community to gather and exchange ideas.
Slingshot Architecture walked the building and site with Library Director Erik Surber to begin to understand the goals for the project and how the architecture could best tell the story of the coal mine community, while still serving the needs of the library itself. We talked about low wood beams, dim light and how the floor could slope giving the visitor an experience of entering a mine. The visitor should ‘feel’ what life was like for the community in the 1920’s. The exterior black cladding symbolizes the dark shaft to reach the coal.
The meeting hall at the end would draw the visitor to a daylit room and trees beyond. The octagon room creates a round table atmosphere and echoes back to Prairie Style architecture of the early 1900’s. The wood roof beams and pendant lights create a warm memorable place.
We’re looking forward to beginning construction next month.
Thank you to everyone who joined us on Friday for our relaunch party. The gathering afforded us a chance to thank our clients, consultants, friends and families for their part in our firm and our work. To those that were not able to make it, we have also greatly appreciated your feedback and support over the last week.
I have two personal observations to share coming away from the event:
#1 – Sharing the new brand is a blast! It is effortless and authentic. I realized this when I caught up with a previous client that works in a space that we designed with him. I explained the new name, our purpose and process. It was not a shock, he was not surprised… instead he nodded in agreement and said he wanted to meet about his next office space. Our clients know this is who we are, but now we can speak clearly about what they know.
#2 – Our team is strong and unified. When I look back across the images of the staff preparing for the launch and then at the event, I see a group of people that cares about each other and truly enjoy spending time together. It is awesome to work with talented individuals that are having a good time in their work. Can’t wait to see what’s next!
Today we begin a new chapter in the life of our architectural firm. Over the past ten years, we have been very blessed to work on many amazing projects in Des Moines, around Iowa and in other locations. As we roll out some changes and clarity to who we are and how we desire to provide work, it is a good time to share with you a few key thoughts that have become clear and unmistakeable to me.
Although I’m not a native of Iowa, Des Moines has become my home due to the people I’ve been fortunate enough to know through work and outside of work. Thank you to all of you that have guided and pushed me to pursue my architectural dreams. Thank you to all of you who invited me to assist you with your architectural needs and provided us with several great opportunities.
I have an absolutely amazing family. Thank you mom for being an integral member of our team for several years. Your dedication and support was immeasurable. Thank you Tony and Riley for not only allowing me to pursue my passion, but your understanding when I too often chose poorly and put my work ahead of you two. Sandi, none of this would have been possible without your commitment, strength and strong love. Thank you. I hope all four of you can share in the success and pride of today because it would not have happened without you.
As for the firm itself, it’s clear “its just bigger than me now”. Our office studio is a group of amazing people that share similar life and work drivers with me. Our drivers are embedded in our Process and Purpose. Our Purpose is very simple. We need and expect Meaning in our work. If we rigorously Serve our Clients and provide processes and solutions that Make Sense, we will find and deliver Meaning. Our Process is threefold. We Pull Back so we can clearly identify a project, generate Momentum to define solutions and strive to make Impact.
Regarding our drivers, I must point out it has been difficult yet simple and very rewarding, to clearly identify them as a result of the dedicated work Justin, John and Adam at 8|7 Central did to “discover” our firm. They also created all our new, very personal, graphics and firm materials. Besides their never ending great work, we also now have three new friends and accomplices in the battle to do meaningful design.
David Voss, Dan Drendel, John Bloom and Sandi Wattier have pushed, pulled and joined forces with me over the last many years. They are awesome and I truly value working with them and their friendships. Their leadership, expertise, maturity and desire to build our firm while impacting Des Moines have made it easy for me to recognize our firm is no longer about a single person name or even a group of names. The firm name must change so it is aligned with our Process and Purpose.
ge WATTIER Architecture is now Slingshot Architecture.
name on the door (click link for video)